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What does the county council actually do?

September 2, 2015 8:29 AM

Thanks to Cllr Sebastian Kindersley, Chairman of Cambridgeshire County Council, for this post:

Taking advantage of the quiet local government landscape in August to answer one of the perennial questions - what does the County Council actually do? This is more and more pertinent as we make more and more cuts and do the same amount of work with fewer and fewer officers. So here it is - enjoy!

The County Council provides the framework for people to lead healthy and productive lives and oversees the strategic plans for economic and housing growth in Cambridgeshire. We lead the work on transport strategies for the county as a whole which includes maintaining 2,800 miles of roads, 2,400 miles of footways, 1,500 bridges and 55,000 street lights with winter gritting of around 1,300 miles of roads and footpaths. Last year we invested £1.5 million in community developed transport schemes, enabled approximately 3.7 million single Park and Ride bus journeys and 3.45m journeys on the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway and transported 15,000 children to school every day. We manage almost 320,000 tonnes of waste, of which over 55% is recycled, We intervened in rogue trader cases involving over 180 victims and in excess of £500,000 and helped 20,000 people benefit from adult learning. 85 highway improvement schemes were delivered working with local communities (including locally, believe it or not).

We welcomed 2.55 million visitors each year to our libraries, registered 15,200 births, marriages, civil partnerships and deaths and supported over 10,000 young children aged 0-5 through our network of 40 children's centres. When it comes to education we worked with more than 250 schools to ensure over 80,000 children get the high quality education to which they are entitled as well as supported more than 3,000 children with statements of special educational need. We provided more than 1,000 disabled children and young people with short breaks, including more than 50,000 hours of individual support and around 4,600 overnight stays. Importantly our job includes safeguarding children at risk of harm and helping vulnerable families to improve their
situation.

We look after children in care, finding them adoptive parents and supporting around 500 children at any one time in foster and residential care and alongside that we care for over 7,800 older people in their own homes. The County commissioned around 1.4 million hours of care for older people in their own home, provided social care services to over 13,900 people and a further 2,900 people following discharge from hospital. We provide packages of care and support to 1600 people with learning disabilities, around 775 people with physical disabilities and over 500 people with sensory impairments every year.

Cambridgeshire County Council handles 220,000 phone enquiries a year, ranging from applications for school places through to enquiries regarding social care; deals with 86,000 non phone contacts, manages 3.5m visits to our website a year - with services like renewing library books and concessionary bus passes available online. We had 1,150 Freedom of Information Requests and 115 Subject Access Requests (and this is likely to rise year on year)

Of course we also now have an important Public Health role. We commission a range of preventive services which help people to stay healthy including 17,000 health checks for people aged 40-74, 35,000 appointments with sexual health and contraception services, CAMQUIT support for over 2,000 people a year to quit smoking and over 10,000 one to one and around 3,500 group contacts with school nurses to support children's health and wellbeing.

And that's all in the context that Cambridgeshire is the fastest growing county in the UK, as confirmed by the 2011 census which evidenced a growth rate of 12%. When this level of demand is combined with reductions in funding being able to balance our resources will become increasingly more challenging. Other pressures such as inflation (£9.7million), a growing demand for services (£9.6 million), increases in statutory responsibilities in areas such as Adult Social Care, Special Educational Needs and mental health, as well as capital spending (building new schools etc.), creates an overall savings requirement of £29.8million. Over the next five years (2016/17 to 2020/21), it is estimated that the savings will need to be as high as around £101.2 million. This is on top of savings in excess of £115.3 million that have been made over the last three years.

So now you know. Bet you wish you hadn't asked…