Keeping communities running | #CouncilsCan

Despite challenging circumstances, councils have continued to play a key role in keeping communities running.


Councils are responsible for the services that make a real difference to people's lives. Despite losing almost 60p of every £1 of Government funding over the past 10 years, they have continued to provide reliable, efficient services which have made a difference to people's lives and relieved pressures on other essential services like the NHS and the police.

Learn more about some of the great work councils have done across a number of policy areas below.


Housing

Councils are uniquely placed to deliver more new homes than the country has seen in a generation. Since lifting the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) borrowing cap in 2018, 94 per cent of housing stock-owning councils have said they will use the new powers to accelerate or increase their housebuilding programmes to build homes desperately needed in their communities. This will give councils the ability to support the Government to tackle homelessness and address the growing need for high quality, affordable homes. Council housebuilding is the only way to boost housing supply, help families struggling to meet housing costs, provide good quality homes to rent, reduce homelessness and tackle the housing waiting lists many councils have. However by giving more powers to councils, they can build even more homes for our future generations. 
Eastleigh Borough Council

"I don’t know how we would have managed without the home adaptations that have been carried out through the scheme.”


Parkinson’s disease has robbed musician Tony Richmond of the life he once lived.

As a result of tremors, imprecise movements and weakened muscles from the degenerative disease, the former professional drummer now struggles to hold a glass of water, much less a set of drum sticks.

Tony was diagnosed with the long-term degenerative disease eight years ago. Since then he has battled bladder cancer and undergone a triple heart bypass, all the while struggling with limited mobility. His weeks are spent shuttling from one hospital appointment to another, attending physio sessions and speech therapy sessions, all of which leave him mentally and physically exhausted.

Tony doesn’t complain. His wife, Vicki - who a year ago quit her job to become his full-time carer - is equally stoic.

Eastleigh Borough Council’s Disabled Facilities Grant scheme has gone some way to making life a little easier for Tony and Vicki. Through the scheme the couple has qualified for several vital adaptations to their house in Derby Road. Adaptations the couple could never have afforded to carry out themselves.

A specially-adapted stair-lift means Tony struggles a little less to get upstairs; a simple task to most but one that often could take Tony as long as 40 minutes to complete. A contemporary wet room with a raised toilet to replace a traditional bathroom, gives Tony more independence; the extra space created by removing the bath now allowing him access to the room while using his disability walker.

“We were referred to the Disabled Facilities Grant scheme by Tony’s Occupational Therapist. We didn’t know we were even eligible for it,” says Vicki.

“Without the scheme, we couldn’t have afforded to convert the bathroom or install the stair-lift. Both of these adaptations have made a huge difference to Tony. Before the stair-lift was fitted, Tony would have to semi-crawl up the stairs, with me trying to support him from behind; it could often take as long as 40 minutes. It was exhausting.”

Tony speaks warmly of the bathroom conversion. “The design of the wet room is great. Before the bath was removed it was difficult for me to move around in the bathroom; the space was really too tight for my walker to fit in.

“Since the bath has been replaced with a walk-in shower, I can wash more easily as the cubicle is on one level and has fold-back screens and a seat.”

Vicki adds: “The Disabled Facilities Grant scheme has had an enormous impact on our lives. I don’t know how we would have managed without the home adaptations that have been carried out through the scheme.”

Liverpool City Council
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Liverpool led the way in 1869 when it built the first local authority homes in Europe. The idea initially was for the private sector to build them on behalf of the council but developers were only interested in building in profitable areas. So Liverpool Corporation, as it was known then, built them itself. Make no mistake about it, these early homes were basic, just bedrooms and a living room, but it was a private space for each family and it was their own, which was revolutionary at the time.

One hundred and fifty years on, housing is still one of the most pressing issues in Liverpool, and one the council identified as a priority in 2010.

Since then the councils has made lots of progress – bringing thousands of derelict homes back into use. Liverpool City Council has worked with partners to rescue housing projects in places like Anfield, Norris Green and Toxteth, as well as our pioneering Homes for a Pound scheme which gives people the chance to buy a property for less than the cost of a newspaper on the condition that they refurbish it. These schemes have breathed new life into areas which were previously haemorrhaging residents.

More recently, the council set up an arms-length housing company, Foundations, which is driving forward a number of schemes to help people on to the housing ladder through rent-to-buy and private developments, and also targeted at niches which are not of interest to developers, such as for the elderly, large families, foster carers and those with a disability. This is an integral part of the council’s Inclusive Growth Plan, in which they are also looking at setting up a regional bank with other local authorities to help the poorest access financial services such as mortgages. The council has a role to play in the social rented market to make sure no-one is left behind, particularly as the city is growing with half a million residents.

The issue that has held back the council’s ambitions of building their own council housing again – despite the Government lifting the borrowing cap - has been the issue of the historic housing debt. For Liverpool this was some £735 million, which the Government wiped out when we stock transferred the last of our council homes to housing associations around a decade ago. The council has now had confirmation from the Government that the council will not require them to repay that money if they start building houses again, which gives the council the confidence to kick on.

So, for the first time in more than 30 years, the council has just launched the first handful of council owned properties for rent in Picton – with the promise of many more to come. This return to council building roots represents the very best traditions of the public sector: intervening to make life better for citizens.

Waltham Forest Council
New builds in Waltham Forest

Waltham Forest Council has revealed plans to deliver the most ambitious programme of council house building in the borough for a generation.

The programme is part of the council’s drive to secure 18,000 new homes in the borough across all tenures over the next 10 years.

This home building drive, set out in the council’s new housing strategy, is part of a partnership approach to driving up housing delivery by working with housing associations, the Mayor of London and private developers.

The strategy is accompanied by a new Waltham Forest Housing Compact with housing associations which sets out the shared priorities that the council and housing associations will work together to deliver.

The council successfully bid for £25 million from the inaugural Mayor of London’s Building Council Homes for Londoners programme. The money is being used to part fund development of 232 homes for social rent and 61 for shared ownership on council led housing developments of 463 homes on eight sites. 

The council’s programme of new home building passed its first 100 new homes built with the completion of the Warburton Terrace E17 homes and keys passed to new tenants in June.

The council’s owned housing company Sixty Bricks’ first development, a mixed tenure scheme of 45 new homes at Lena Kennedy Close E4, started on site earlier this year, with three more schemes expected to obtain planning permission and start on site by March 2020.

The strategy also includes an investment of £60 million to improve existing council homes, installing 1,200 new kitchens,


Health and wellbeing

There were 3,323,275 attendances at local authority funded sexual health services in 2017/18. This is 9,105 attendances per day or 379 per hour or 6 every minute, at the same time as bringing down the cost of sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment by over £41 million. There were 268,390 adults in contact with drug and alcohol services and 15,583 young people in specialist substance misuse services in 2017/18. 883,541 people received an NHS Healthcheck (health MOT for the over 40s) via their council in 2017/18. 274,021 smokers set a quit date via their council funded stop smoking service. The equivalent to 750 every day. 1.2 million children were weighed and measured as part of the national child measurement programme, more than at any other time in its history. Since councils took on this responsibility in 2013/14, they have reduced the cost per child measured from £19 per child to £17 per child.
Wyre Council
Wyre Council - resident group health

It is widely recognised that socio economic factors play an important part in determining health and wellbeing. Social isolation, a lack of physical activity and lifestyle choices are all linked to illnesses including dementia, heart disease and stroke.

Furthermore, statistics have shown that residents in one of Wyre’s largest towns, Fleetwood, could expect to live significantly shorter lives and experience more life-changing illnesses than people elsewhere in the country. Here residents are 55 per cent more likely to suffer from coronary heart disease, 23 per cent more likely to have high blood pressure and 35 per cent more likely to have a stroke when compared to the prevalence across England.

Public health is a key responsibility for councils and many of them have prioritised combating loneliness and isolation. In addition, the Government recently announced its first loneliness strategy, encouraging GPs to refer patients to groups, classes and activities in a bid to tackle issues of isolation and loneliness.

Wyre Council’s Healthier Wyre initiative targets isolated residents by hosting and supporting groups and events for the local community including weekly singing groups, tea dances, gardening clubs, guided walks and much more.

One group that the council has helped get off the ground is Men’s Shed in Fleetwood.

Part of the UK wide Men’s Shed movement, the Fleetwood group was started out by local man Tony O’Neil. Similar to most new Men’s Sheds, the group didn’t have a place to meet. After several weeks of getting together over a coffee in a local pub, the group now meet at the pavilion at Memorial Park in the town after working with the council to find suitable premises. Wyre Council, Lancashire Care NHS Trust and Healthier Fleetwood now continue to support and promote the group as it goes from strength to strength.

Tony explains, “I started thinking about setting up a group like this two years ago after a number of young men in Fleetwood, including friends of mine, took their own lives. I decided to make it happen and started up the first shed meeting last year. In the first week only one member turned up and I almost gave up. But a week later four men turned up and now we have a core group and new members who turn up weekly.

“I want this to be a group that welcomes everyone with open arms, whatever your background, there is no judgement here. We are here to listen and point people in the right direction. If just one person turns around one day and says that they might not be here if they’d not come along then I’ve achieved what I set out to do.

“Improving mental health is just one side of the group. We want to offer practical help too, perhaps to those who need help getting online or just provide some company to those who might be lonely. Now that we have established the group we are planning to put our skills to good use. We’re going to see what skills everyone in the group can bring and maybe start to up cycle furniture to sell or provide a bike repair service.”

Councillor Lynne Bowen, Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Health and Community Engagement comments, “Research has shown that loneliness and isolation can have a damaging effect on health and wellbeing. It can also bring with it issues of not knowing how to access support and services. In particular at retirement age people can feel lost and lose their sense of purpose. Groups such as this can provide a lifeline. Every credit to Tony for getting the group off the ground and for continuing to encourage new members. I’m so pleased we are have been able to support the Fleetwood Men’s shed, it’s a great idea and we’re hoping to develop similar groups elsewhere in the borough.”

Norfolk County Council

Like many areas, Norfolk has seen rising numbers of people coming to their sexual health clinics for testing. To help ease the pressure, an online service for the four core STIs has been developed. It has proved remarkably successful. This case study forms part of our sexual health resource.

The challenge

In March 2015 Norfolk County Council commissioned an integrated sexual health service for the county including a section 75 agreement to pool budgets with the NHS England for HIV treatment and care.

Over the following years demand continued to rise, putting pressure on budgets that were being squeezed because of the cut in the public health grant by central government.

Around a third of patients coming to clinics were asymptomatic and so the council began to explore other ways to support those patients, in particularly looking at the potential of online testing.

The solution

Chlaymdia screening for under 25s and HIV testing for at-risk groups was already being done online through national programmes. So Norfolk asked its provider to take that a step further and develop an online service for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and HIV.

The provider, Norfolk iCASH, developed its own online platform, using the same labs and kits that were used by the clinic team. 

The service launched in August 2017 with the target of decreasing clinic activity by 6 per cent to 7 per cent, which Norfolk estimated would save in the region of £100,000 a year.

All appropriate asymptomatic users are now signposted to the online service. It allows users to order a STI kit to be sent to their home, self-test, return via post and receive the result to their mobile phone within days.

The impact

The service has proved incredibly popular. Between November 2017 and November 2018 nearly 13,000 patients used the service. 

In fact only about one in 10 asymptomatic patients use the clinics - and they are ones who do not have mobile phones, are under 16 or where there are safeguarding concerns.

Sexual Health Commissioner Tracey Milligan said: “It has worked really well. We didn’t advertise it or really promote it. We just relied on clinicians telling people about it or people finding it on the website. “I think the fact that we are using the existing provider has made it really seamless – and patients appreciate that. The results come back quickly and we have even noticed a drop in the outof-area payments we have to make. “There are probably a variety of factors for that - our clinics are really busy, some people do not want to be recognised at their local clinics and others work out of area.

“What it shows is that there is a real demand for online testing. That should not come as a surprise - after all people conduct so much of their lives online from banking to shopping, health services should be no different.”

Sevenoaks District Council

Sevenoaks District Council has recognised the importance of housing to health, creating a new cabinet portfolio role to champion the agenda, which in turn has led to a series of projects that are changing lives. This case study shows how district councils have improved the health of their local areas.

Housing and health are intrinsically linked. If a home is cold, damp and full of hazards, or over-crowded or located in an isolated location, it will have a negative impact on occupants.

In the Kent district of Sevenoaks the risk of these problems is great. While the district is one of the 20 per cent least deprived areas in England, it is a statistic which hides serious pockets of deprivation because one in nine children live in low income families.

With house prices up to 17 times higher than average wages, Sevenoaks suffers from the out-migration of younger people to cheaper areas to live.

This contributes to the breaking up of families and communities and results in isolation and loneliness in older people. Many homeowners are asset rich but cash poor, and living in poorly maintained housing that contributes to falls.

Highlights of progress

Sevenoaks District Council started working towards a new housing strategy following the 2015 elections. The new post of cabinet portfolio for housing and health was created while a series of workshops were held with members and a Local Housing Needs Study was carried out.

It resulted in the Wellbeing Starts at Home strategy being launched in autumn 2017, which recognised publicly for the first time the clear link between housing and health.

The strategy has helped to pave the way for a number of initiatives. The council had already set up a social prescribing service aimed at preventing homelessness by working with people who were missing or are consistently late with council tax or rent payments.

The service has now doubled in size over the past year thanks to funding from public health and the Better Care Fund. These new advisers focus on falls prevention and nonmedical reasons for seeking help, such as anxiety caused by debt.

The council has also been working with the voluntary sector to tackle housing problems that are related to health. Pop-up cafes have been funded in isolated locations, offering residents a chance to socialise.

Another project has involved dealing with hoarding. West Kent Mind has been funded to work with hoarders in recognition of the fact that it is a mental health problem. Its team helps de-clutter homes, while also offering counselling.

Cabinet Member for Housing and Health, Councillor Michelle Lowe said: “It seems to be working. Despite one of the hottest summers on record, we did not have one complaint of a stinky house.”


Adult social care

In 2017/18 councils received 1,843,920 requests for social care support from new clients: more than 5,000 per day. The total number of episodes of short term care to maximise independence was 246,035. Of these, 216,160 were delivered for adults aged 65 and over. There were 857,770 clients in receipt of long term support. Most of these had been receiving long term support for one year or more. 9 in 1,000 18 to 64 year olds received long-term support during the year, while 56 in 1,000 people aged 65 and over received this type of support.
Hertfordshire County Council 

Hertfordshire Care Providers Association (HCPA) has become one of the most well-respected and developed provider associations in the country which levers in significant additional funding over and above the core grant provided by Hertfordshire County Council (HCC). This forms part of our adult social care markets and commissioning resource.

Initiated by HCC in 2008, HCPA now has over 500 members, runs an annual sponsored award ceremony, carries out peer reviews, holds networking events and runs a training programme reaching 13,000 people. HCC and local providers acknowledge that HCPA activity has positively impacted on the quality of care in the county.

The challenge

Hertfordshire County Council wanted to improve the quality of care providers in the council, reboot relationships with them and put them into the driving seat in developing a sector led approach.

The solution

Hertfordshire Care Providers Association was originally set up as a negotiating committee between care homes and Hertfordshire County Council. In 2008 a leadership change to the existing committee opened up an opportunity to revitalize the approach to provider relationships and encourage providers to take a more active active role in improving quality.

To set up HCPA a Memorandum of Understanding was signed focusing on values, openness and transparency. Funding followed shortly after. The Chief Executive was appointed in 2010 and membership was opened up to all providers. Since then Hertfordshire Care Providers Association has become one of the most well-respected and developed provider associations in the country.

The first annual HCPA Care Awards Ceremony took place in 2012. A successful NHS vanguard bid in 2015 led to national recognition.

The not-for-profit organisation, based in Welwyn Garden City, represents all adult social care - private, independent and voluntary sector providers - in the county.

Their vision is to create a county where all adults who receive care are given a service of true quality, which is both personalised and individually tailored to their needs. HCPA manage over £1million of funding for adult social care training courses and qualifications for members on behalf of the government, the local authority, the NHS, and other funding agencies, and work closely with their partners at Hertfordshire County Council (HCC), Care Quality Commission (CQC), Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), Skills for Care and other public bodies.

They offer a broad range of training and qualifications to enable private, voluntary and independent care providers, at all levels of their career, to keep up-to-date with local and national initiatives and continually improve their knowledge and skills.

HCPA members get access to fully-funded and low-cost training and qualifications, including Care Certificate, CPD courses, Champion Pathways and falls training, as well as getting support from services such as Herts Care Search and Herts Good Care Recruitment Service.

The impact

Recent achievements include:
- Constructive challenge to HCC on care fees and commissioning strategies
- Low numbers of providers in safeguarding processes with free support offered if they are
- Celebration of the care sector’s achievements
- Representation of care providers with NHS partners
- Innovative agile workforce initiatives
- Peer support and collaborative working
- Paid membership of 508 organisations
- Re-accredited with the Matrix Standard for information, advice and guidance
- A Skills for Care Endorsed Learning Provider
- Taught 8,297 learners directly and indirectly, through approved training providers, HCPA funded education for another 4,500 learners, giving a total reach of nearly 13,000 learning interventions in 2017/18
- Hold regular Network Events to engage with members. For example more than 100 members were at their most recent event which had the theme of Forward Thinking – Prevention and Planning for the Future
- Innovations like a ‘human library’ at events offering members the chance to chat to commissioners, monitoring teams, recruiters and HCPA staff on specific issues.

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Isle of Wight Council

A key priority of the Isle of Wight’s ‘Care Close to Home’ Strategy is to deliver significant improvements to the quality of adult social care registered services. This forms part of our adult social care markets and commissioning resource.

The council commissioned a meta-analysis of the all Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspections of care services on the island and used the results to work with a small number of good and outstanding providers in co-creating a free training programme for all Registered Managers (RMs) on the island. An “Outstanding” local provider has been commissioned by the council to deliver the programme, focusing first on RMs from services graded ‘Inadequate’ and ’Requires Improvement’.

In addition, a company director from the independent sector has been seconded into the council/Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) integrated commissioning team and has led on projects including outcomes based commissioning and development of the council’s Market Position Statement.

Not only have relationships between providers and the council and CCG improved significantly, but the rate of permanent admissions into care homes has reduced by over 60% and delayed transfers from care attributable to ASC figures have improved by over 55%.

The challenge

In late 2016, the Isle of Wight council recognised that the overall quality of care across the adult social care independent sector was significantly below national and regional averages for residential, nursing and domiciliary care. In addition, the numbers of people permanently entering residential and nursing care was significantly above national and regional averages.

By dint of its island status, people living on the Isle of Wight are less likely to be able to access care from other local authority areas than can occur on the mainland, thereby rendering the availability of good quality local care even more important. Commissioners recognised there was an issue and there was a great deal that could be done to improve the situation.

There are 83 care homes and 26 home care providers operating on the Isle of Wight.

The solution

A local care board was set up, including senior representation from the local authority, CCG and integrated NHS trust. This has recently been expanded to include voluntary sector and GP federation representation.

Early on, the local care board integrated the quality and commissioning teams across health and the local authority - and a completely new quality assurance framework and associated processes were introduced. This includes, for instance, a simple “professionals feedback form” that is completed by any professional visiting a care home for any reason. The form asks the professional (above and beyond any specific visit to an individual they are undertaking) about: the appearance of residents; the quality of the physical environment; the observed quality of interaction between staff and residents; and the apparent level of staffing available. The professional is asked to share their observations with a senior member of care staff before they leave the home and to submit the form to the integrated commissioning unit. The quality assurance framework also includes announced and unannounced audits and user and carer feedback and the QA team is accompanied by experts by experience. This enables the quality and commissioning teams to give targeted support as soon as it's needed.

The impact

Achievements since 1 April 2017 include:

- permanent admissions into residential care reduced by over 60 per cent
- delayed transfers of care across the system reduced by over 55 per cent
- the integrated commissioning team worked with local care providers to co-produce a market position statement, communicating a clear, shared, vision for the future.

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Liverpool City Council

Liverpool City Council linked its homecare providers with technology providers. The impact has been much more significant than it originally envisaged, leading to the uptake of technological care solutions across the city, bringing in £1 million euros of additional funding to social care and leading to better outcomes for people using services. This case study forms part of our adult social care markets and commissioning resource.

The challenge

Liverpool thought that its adult social care providers weren’t very well linked in with technology firms. Both the council and the providers didn’t know what was available in the technology market that could significantly improve service delivery. Unless this situation changed people in the area weren’t likely to benefit from new technology developments in adult social care that could improve outcomes for them and reduce costs for the council.

The impact

Initially 300,000 euros were levered into the adult social care market. This has now risen to over £1 million euros. The funding had been helpful in funding provider startup costs when making technological changes to service delivery. Licenses are particularly expensive and the funding really helped with this issue. The funding also assisted with funding the hardware needed for care staff such as smart phones and tablets.

Since 2016 the initiative has also helped Liverpool increase the size of the local homecare market from five to 20 care companies and led to the uptake of a new digital system across the community. District nurses are now also being included, so it’s been far more successful than the original aspirations envisaged.

The PASS Digital care records system has been taken up across Liverpool. This uses smart phone technology so that carers swipe a QR code when they arrive in a house, recording tasks and outcomes to be achieved. Families can get an app to see in real time what activity has taken place and companies have a dashboard to see in real time if any outcomes are outstanding.

Liverpool has also networked with councils across Europe and presented this project in Vienna, Tallin and Coimbra.

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Children and young people’s services

88 children are taken into the care of councils every day. Councils receive 1,796 referrals to children’s social services every day – more than one every minute. On 31 March 2018, councils were supporting 53,790 children on child protection plans, and a further 404,710 children in need. Between 2009/10 and 2017/18 the number of looked after children increased by 17%. At the same time overall expenditure on children’s social care only increased by 4%
Camden Council

The Hive is open to anyone aged between 16 and 25 with a Camden postcode or GP. It offers a space where young people can just drop in to sit, chat and use the free Wi-Fi. There are activities every afternoon and support available for anyone needing help with education, employment, housing, sexual health and substance misuse. What The Hive really offers, however, is a support network, a place to talk about the difficulties and challenges in a young person’s life, and – for those who need it – more direct engagement, with one-to-one counselling and therapy.

Katie Clayton and Peter Day, the clinical leads for the service, say the biggest issue they see is social isolation: “Because of family breakdown, many of the children have no adults in their life they can turn to – no support networks. The most vulnerable come to us first.”

The role of the centre is to help tackle problems before they reach crisis point, by helping young people to use their own resilience skills to manage their situation. For those who need it, there is help managing what is, at times, a perplexing system of appointments and referrals.

It’s a solution that works. Whether because of word of mouth or more referrals by GPs, teachers or mental health professionals, demand has gone up over the past three years – a picture that is reflected across providers in Camden, where the level of diagnosis and the level of risk has increased at a time when resources are stretched.

As Jennie Mackeith, Strategic Commissioning Manager, Camden Council, explains though, much of what can be achieved doesn’t necessarily cost. It’s important to keep a flexible approach. The Hive is part of Camden’s wider Minding the Gap service, offering support for young people transitioning between children’s and adult services to reduce  the risk of disengagement.

“Of course there are challenges, but the great strength is our collaborative approach,” she says.

Portsmouth City Council

Dan and his family are working with Up2U: Family intervention service, a programme for people who use domestically abusive and unhealthy behaviours in their relationships. As part of that, the service will work with 100 high risk families, offering support for parents, children and young people alongside intervention work with the parents who use domestically unhealthy/abusive behaviours to prevent the families continually returning to the same services. Up2U hopes to break the cycles of behaviour for the whole family.

“I’ve been with Elisha for four years. It was good at first and we were happy. We had our first boy quite quickly – he’s four and our second’s three months. They’re great. But then things got hard and we were falling apart. Elisha moved out. The social workers were involved and worried about our children. I felt I didn’t have anyone, which made it even harder to be around people. I was very depressed and in trouble, and then I ended up in court. Seeing Elisha crying made me know I wanted things to change.

My social worker put me in touch with Up2U and they made me feel really comfortable. My social worker is a man, which actually helps.

I feel like they’ve helped me be more mature. I never used to be able to open up and the interventions have helped me with that. They’re one-to-one and we think about how to actually sit down and talk through arguments, rather than walk away. We work on thinking positively and negatively.

We also talk about how to step back from things that could get me in trouble. I feel like I have more control. I used to lose my temper really quickly, but now I’m much calmer.

My main goal is for my family to get to the point where we’re out of the social system and Elisha and me are looking after our children ourselves. I’m really hopeful I never used to go out with my kids, especially when me and Elisha were falling out. But now we do – to the woods, the funfair, the park. I feel really positive about the future.“

The impact
At the end of 2016/17 33 clients had completed the Up2U programme. 22 of these clients had completed the Up2U programme and were followed up at 12 months after completion. 

There were 44 children with open cases with children’s social care prior to the Up2U programme, 37 on Child Protection (CP) Plans, six in local authority care (LAC), and one on a Child in Need (CiN) plan. Twelve months after clients had completed the Up2U programme only 16 children remained open to children’s services and 28 cases had been closed. In the 12 months prior to starting the Up2U programme there were 22 incidents where clients were suspects of domestic violence and abuse (DVA), 18 arrests for DVA and nine convictions for DVA. In the 12 months after completion this was reduced to one incident where clients were suspects of DVA, one arrest for DVA and no convictions for DVA.  In the 12 months prior to starting the Up2U programme the clients were MARAC offenders 22 times; in the 12 months after completion this was reduced to twice.

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Staffordshire County Council

Staffordshire’s Breathing Space programme works with mothers and families who have previously had a child taken into care, and are pregnant again. By working with families to make sure that they can give their child the care it needs to live a happy and healthy life, they can keep their child at home, changing the lives of the most vulnerable for the better.

It’s part of the council’s Edge Of Care service, which targets an innovative package of intensive support to families on the edge of care, in order to change the lives of our most vulnerable families for the better and avoiding the need for costly, statutory intervention.

“I’ve had three children taken away from me. Two were adopted and I was really angry at my social workers. They just took them away and I wasn’t sure what went wrong. I know I was struggling, but I felt I didn’t have any support. Now I’ve got a new partner, and he’s great, but I felt that our social workers had already made up their mind to take the baby away from me. I am really overweight and was worried about this. I was depressed and struggling to get out of the house and go to the doctors or hospital because of my panic attacks. I really didn’t want to lose another baby.”

Emily and Joe’s family support worker was concerned that if improvements were not made, the new child would be on the cusp of going into care when born. The Breathing Space programme engages expectant parents in practical parenting programmes completed prior to the birth of a child.

Emily’s mental health issues and weight meant she found it difficult to attend doctors meetings and antenatal appointments. Ways were put into place to help her attend meetings, and her family support worker came along to a number of appointments. A special bariatric bed was made available for the birth to support Emily’s weight.

Emily and Joe’s baby has now been born and is still in the family’s care. They continue to receive support with a family support worker visiting three times a week to ensure their baby remains safe, happy and healthy.

“I’m so thankful for all the work our social workers have done for me and my family. I was nervous about becoming a first time dad and really wanted to do right by our baby. They always headed us in the right direction and with help and support my little one was allowed home with us.”

Staffordshire’s Edge of Care Service includes four key strands:

1. Intensive Prevention Service (IPS) – a solution-focused, flexible 12-week programme offering a same day urgent response for young people age 11 to 17 at immediate risk of coming into care.

2. Reunification – supporting young people in long-term placements to return home with around six months intensive, individualised support including short breaks and support from Staffordshire’s Virtual School for Looked After Children to ease transition.

3. Family Group Conferences – support for families to lead in planning how they will respond to concerns and enable a child to remain at home or return from care.

4. Breathing Space – intensive support for women who have had children removed from their care and are in the early stages of another pregnancy.

The impact
Over 80 per cent of the 524 children supported by the Edge of Care service and Intensive Family Support service in 2016/17 were able to stay with their families, giving them the chance of a better life.

Since 2015, the number of Children in Need in Staffordshire reduced from 344 to 321 per 10,000 of the population and the children subject to a Child Protection Plan has reduced from 41 to 32 per 10,000 of the population.

For five years until Spring 2017 the number of children in care remained stable (excluding Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children) against a national increase.

This has also avoided over £2 million in costs to the authority and the taxpayer.

In feedback on Staffordshire’s Edge of Care Service, Ofsted said: “A number of innovative projects have been trialled, evaluated and implemented to prevent children’s needs from escalating... Inspectors saw examples of these projects making a tangible difference to children’s lives.”

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