It was very quiet in the office on Thursday thanks to the tube strike, but it was great to be joined by so many other cyclists as I went around central London. We didn’t have an integration catch up meeting, so here are the main things we would have covered:
Obviously the Budget on Wednesday takes first billing. But, for social care and health what wasn’t in it is as important as what was. We do know that the NHS will get £8bn of additional investment (and that some of its efficiency target will be met by keeping pay increases at 1 per cent), we don’t know when the NHS will get additional funding or how this year’s deficit will be addressed. We do know that there will be a higher minimum wage (the living wage) and that this will increase the gap in social care funding, we don’t know how local government will be supported to meet that additional burden. We do know that defence spending will be protected, but we don’t yet know the extra savings required from other spending including local government to pay for it. We also heard nothing about the funding of the second phase of the Care Act which is due to be implemented next April, about any wider changes in local government spending power or any specific new devolution deals involving health.
All of which makes our ongoing discussions with Government on the Spending Review more important. We expect that the formal process will start shortly and that we will need to revise our submissions in the light of the changes announced in the Budget. See more about the Budget in our ‘on the day’ briefing and our spending review publication.
You’ll recall that we agreed to test out a new Risk Awareness tool for councils so that we can have a better understanding of what the sector needs to work on and what each council most needs support with. The good news is that we now have a wide range of places that have agreed to try the new approach out and to share their findings with us. We will be doing this work through July and August and then pulling together the findings in September.
It was great to meet some new health and wellbeing board chairs and vice chairs at their induction session on Thursday, and to hear about how they are developing their role and their boards into the system leaders we need to take forward effective partnerships with health across a wide range of council services. Clearly our new joint report with NHS Clinical Commissioners ‘Making it better together’ and our more bespoke support to health and wellbeing boards are tackling the right issues and will make a real difference.
Finally, next week sees the second meeting of the Cabinet’s Integration Task Force, chaired by the Secretary of State for Health and bringing together several senior cabinet ministers. It will be looking at what can be done to progress information sharing, which has been such a high priority programme for the Integration Pioneers, and at options for an integration scorecard, which Jeremy Hunt announced last week at LGA Conference.
This week I’m using my blog to introduce you to Julie Smith. Julie began working for the Local Government Management Board in 1994; took a secondment to the LGA in 2000 and helped with the move from Pimlico to Local Government House.
She has worked on the Beacon Scheme, disseminating best practice across councils; the Local Innovation Awards Scheme and the Children’s Improvement Board.
Julie joined the grant-funded health programme in 2012 as a business manager, monitoring and overseeing the budgets, assisting in the recruitment process, and line managing the programme support officers (PSOs).
In practical terms, Julie says, “Please do your expense claims promptly”. Also, don’t forget to send her a copy of your leave card whenever you book leave; and if you make any purchases, make sure you give the information to your PSO so that they can create a purchase order, which Julie can then approve.
On a personal note, Julie gave me an impromptu health and safety induction on my first day on the job - not having a clue who I was!
Enjoy a lovely summer weekend!