The financial analysis concludes that a two new unitary solution could deliver savings of nearly £58 million over five years to residents of Buckinghamshire. However, two new unitary Councils with a focus on economic growth emulating Milton Keynes, have the potential to enable both Councils to significantly improve growth and productivity. Additional GVA and house building have a direct financial benefit both in national revenue and for the Councils concerned. The change to unitary status will not bring about this growth unless there is a redirection of strategic focus - allowing the different areas of Buckinghamshire to operate within their own functioning economic geographies.
The vision of our proposal is about independence and delivering the right amount of help when needed. Low level intervention, coupled with effective early intervention has been successful in enabling people to live in their own homes for longer, for providing independence for people with long term conditions and empowering communities and the voluntary sector to play a role in providing early help and support to people in their own homes. This approach if rigourously pursued can reduce the number of people who require care outside their own homes. The budget analysis for Adult Social Care shows that £74.7 million (58%) was spent supporting service users no longer able to live in their own homes, a significant proportion of the overall spend and one which is subject to upward cost pressures now and in the future. Because of the high and rising cost of care, a small increase in the number of those able to remain in their homes with support would have an impact on budget spend.
Between April 2015 and August 2015, the cost of nursing placements for older people in Buckinghamshire increased by over 11% and for the provision of short term Respite Care for Older People increased by 23%.
These are people who are capable of living in the community but for whom respite is provided to relieve their community carers. Developing community support to relieve the strain on carers is one significant way that rising costs can be contained. Empowered communities and self sufficient individuals in control of their own lives need less and consume less public services.
We have successfully developed ways of earning additional revenue and reducing our own costs through innovation. Aylesbury Vale District Council’s approach to digital delivery has been recognized as leading the way and there is real scope to extend the use of digital delivery into social care and health care. Aylesbury Vale have also pursued a policy of commercialism and targeted charges for added value services, where surpluses generated will be reinvested to support core activities.
Wycombe District Council has capitalised on its land values to provide a revenue stream through the effective development and management of commercial property. This approach provides an ongoing revenue stream which continues to support the delivery of other services.
Chiltern and South Bucks District Councils’ have successfully partnered with each other including a joint. Chief Executive. This approach can be replicated under new structures to support effective partnering. Beyond this, expanding into new markets, which support the objectives of the councils, thereby providing added value and profits for reinvestment will help to support and protect services. A new approach to building thriving economies and resilient communities alongside innovation will create genuinely sustainable local government.