12 Mar Essex County Council pledges ‘best support possible’ for vulnerable residents in 2021/22 Plan
Essex County Council has promised further help and support for the county’s most vulnerable residents as part of its 2021/22 Budget and 12-month Organisation Plan which was approved by Full Council on 23 February.
The singular focus on addressing the challenges of Covid-19 will continue in the next 12 months. It pledged to help young people achieve the best start and older residents to age well, with a community-based, digital-first model of social care that is focused on prevention measures. Improved mental health services, support for people with learning difficulties and helping all residents stay healthy and independent for longer are further priorities.
The past 12 months have been dominated by the impact of Covid-19 on local communities and the Council’s Public Health and Adult Social Care teams have been dedicated to protecting lives and safeguarding residents.
Operation Shield, in partnership with the Community and Voluntary sector and district, city and borough Councils enabled the 60,000 people who had to Shield to access the support they needed.
Other achievements in 2020/21 included a new operating model to maintain the provision of critical children’s services during the pandemic. Family Centres provided a base for the delivery of food parcels and children’s activity packs (Boredom Boxes) for families struggling financially and 22,850 free Summer holiday activity places were provided.
Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, Councillor John Spence, said: “As we hopefully emerge from Covid-19 on a long-term basis, we are firmly committed to pursuing our ambition – that all residents, whatever their age or disability, should have the best quality of life. We will be driving forward a range of programmes to this end.”
In the coming year, Care Home Hubs, formed during lockdown with public health, will continue to offer advice, guidance, and practical support to older people in over 400 residential care homes across the county. The Connect programme, meanwhile, will transform services by making the right connections to the right support, helping older people retain independence for longer, avoid unnecessary hospital admissions and regain independence after hospital stays by using reablement services to their full potential.
For young people, partnership working is being put at the heart of decisions made about youth provision in the county. The 12 Youth Strategy Groups across the County – made up of representatives from the Essex Youth Service, young people, Councillors and other youth organisations – will work together as a dedicated team, to identify local needs and commission services and activity for young people aged 13 to 19 and up to 25 for those with special educational needs, across their communities.
Councillor Louise McKinlay, Cabinet Member for Children and Families said: “By bringing youth services together as a dedicated Youth Strategy Group we can jointly agree services that offer the best support possible for our young people in Essex through effective collaboration.”
She added: “Our children’s services are ‘outstanding’, and it is our priority to see this excellence continue for the benefit of children and families in Essex.”
Essex County Council’s children’s services, rated by Ofsted as ‘Outstanding’, will prioritise improved outcomes for the most vulnerable children, young people, and families this year. To mitigate the expected increases in numbers of children in the care system in 2021/22, more foster carers will be recruited into the Essex Fostering Service.
Over £27 million will be invested in over 1,500 additional mainstream school places from September 2021 to keep pace with rising demand.
Councillor Susan Barker, Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Customer, Communities, Culture and Corporate services, concluded: “Everyone has the right to live the best life they can. This year, more than any other, we have seen just how important strong communities are to wellbeing. Our commitments as Essex County Council this year will offer the best support possible for our residents.”