Making a difference

23 January 2014

It's fantastic to see your council in the running for national awards, because it is a great morale booster for staff. But winning national recognition always comes second for us to making a positive difference to the lives of people in Buckinghamshire.

The county council has been shortlisted in four categories at the LGC Awards – a fabulous achievement. But, at the same time, there is a wealth of evidence within these nominations that our policies are paying off in terms of helping our public. Few better examples exist than CATCH, short for Children and Teenagers Community Help, a service set up in 2011 to help families in crisis.

CATCH has already kept a significant number of teenagers out of care homes by early intervention – and saved the taxpayer thousands of pounds as a result. The methodology is pure common sense. CATCH, comprising of a small team of social care staff, works outside normal hours, including evenings, weekends and Bank Holidays.

The principle is that a crisis does not normally happen during nine-to-five office hours – and the team meets the needs of these families by being able to offer more intensive support at short notice during these times. As a result, families with problems have been seen to earlier.

It hasn't been easy by any means, but it's worked – and the families and the taxpayer are the better off for it.

CATCH's success won it a major national award last year, and it is now a finalist in the LGC Team of the Year category.

But I'm pleased to say that CATCH's work is reflective of the prevailing policy at Buckinghamshire: that prevention is better than cure. All over our authority, our teams are working to the principle that early intervention is best for everyone.

The pressure on local government finances means we simply have to look for innovative approaches to managing demand on services, so it's gratifying to see this kind of creative thinking bearing fruit.

So yes, it's lovely to win awards. But it's even nicer to know we are also winning the battle to make our county a better place.

Councillor Martin Tett (Con) is Leader of Buckinghamshire County Council.