• Social Care, Early Education & Policing

    The Moorlander
    14 October 2019

    New statistics show that vulnerable people across England received almost 13 million extra hours of home visits from social care workers last year through the Improved Better Care Fund, backed by £684million of Government funding. The programme paid for almost 75,000 extra home care packages, more than 15,500 additional care home placements and helped to reduce pressures on the NHS by tackling delayed transfers of care (when someone is ready to be discharged from hospital but isn’t due to a lack of a suitable care plan). While care homes may be the right option for many older people, particularly those with greater needs, most people I speak to locally want to stay at home and keep their independence for as long as possible, and this programme is certainly helping to do this. The funding has also helped increase the residential and nursing home fees paid by councils to social care providers by around 4% - helping to sustain our hugely important social care sector.

    On Friday I visited a local pre-school to discuss the sustainability of maintained nursery schools. The trustees talked through the challenges they face in terms of rising costs, particularly employer pension contributions and increases in the National Living Wage. Although the Government this year increased the amount it gives Devon County Council to pay local providers for free childcare for 3 and 4-year olds (from £3.98/hour to £4.30/hour) there are concerns that funding is not keeping pace with costs. While I support the increases in the National Living Wage and introduction of employer pension contributions, I fully accept that these put pressure on many small businesses and other organisations such as our pre-schools. I will be taking these issues up with the Chancellor of the Exchequer including whether more funding could be provided to increase the hourly rate that providers receive from local authorities for the 30 free hours for 3 and 4-year olds.

    This week the Home Office announced the breakdown of police recruitment plans for the next 12 months. As part of the Government’s mission to recruit 20,000 police officers over the next three years, 6,000 will be recruited in 2020-21 including 423 for forces in the South West. Of these, 141 will be recruited for Devon and Cornwall (more than any other force in the region). These new officers will be in addition to those hired to fill existing vacancies and all costs will be provided by central Government so as not to affect local policing budgets. The numbers will equate to a 5% increase in police officers on the force and build on the 126 extra officers that our Police and Crime Commissioner has funded since 2016.

    For more from Mel follow him on twitter @MelJStride or visit