A blog by Anna Stevenson: On delivering ‘not a lot to ask’, in conversation with Elisa Meschini, Deputy Leader of the County Council
We all want to live in the place we call home with the people and things that we love, in communities where we look out for one another, doing the things that matter to us.
It’s not a lot to ask for. Yet for many adults who use social care it’s not their experience.
The County Council provides social care for adults and young people. Last week I spent some time with deputy leader of the council Elisa Meschini finding out about the changes in social care locally.
It’s just over five months since the ‘Rainbow Alliance’, including the Labour County Councillors, took charge at County Hall.
Labour county councillors chair both the Children and Young People’s Committee and the Adults and Health Committee. These Social Care activities make up about 80% of the County’s spend.
For adults, Social Care is being reorganised to make it much more locally based, instead of carers spending most of their time driving between villages.
‘Care Together: Happy at Home’ is a new scheme that aims to support people who need care to live at home, with a good quality of life. There will be an initial pilot for communities in East Cambridgeshire starting in March. The aim is to develop the scheme with community involvement.
Somehow it seems to have become accepted that people in work still live in poverty. The Tory response is ‘get a better job’ but that is clearly economic nonsense. Who will then do the work that is so poorly paid? Surely, it’s not a lot to ask that people should earn a living wage. One that relates to the real cost of living.
The County Council now pays at least the Real Living Wage (currently £9.50 an hour) to all its direct staff. And the next step is doing the same for contractors, particularly those working in Social Care. It makes sense – one reason for the crisis in Social Care is that people are leaving for better paid jobs.
For young families, the County is focusing on supporting parents with early intervention schemes so that children get the best start in life. This helps to avoid children needing to be taken into care. And the new leadership team is focusing efforts on making sure there are enough places in the County so that children do not need to be sent far away from the people and places that they know.
And because no child should go to bed hungry, free school meals vouchers have been extended into the school holidays. Unused Covid support funds are paying for the vouchers up until the February half-term.
There’s a lot still to fix but there’s already great progress in the right direction.