Peterborough City Council leader says authority has to make £33 million savings

Cllr John Holdich at Sand Piper House, Fletton Quays
Cllr John Holdich at Sand Piper House, Fletton Quays

Tomorrow we will publish proposals which are a first step towards delivering a balanced budget next year and being able to continue meeting the needs of our residents, writes Peterborough City Council leader cllr John Holdich.

I will be able to talk more about these proposals next week and you will be able to read them in full on our website from 5pm tomorrow (Friday).

Overall we need to make savings totalling £33million in 2020/21 to be able to provide the services that our residents need and rely upon and to 
manage the increase in 
demand.

One of the areas where we continue to see a large spike in demand, because our population is growing older and people are requiring more complex care, is adult social care.

For example, the number of people we provide paid-for care packages for has increased by 402 between 2015/16 and 2018/19 – rising from 3,468 to 3,870.

We are meeting this demand by changing the way we provide services, in particular through the use of technology.

In the past year we have installed assistive technology in dozens of homes across the city.

This has allowed those 
residents to keep their independence in their own 
homes, provides peace of mind for relatives and has helped the council to ebb the tide of soaring national adult social care bills.

People like Rolly and Jean who you may have seen on our social media channels this week.

We installed technology in their home to allow Jean, who suffers from dementia, to remain living there safely and confidently. A few years ago she may have had to live in a care home for her own safety, but through some extra support at home, they can remain living together.

The technology that is now available is fantastic. Examples include voice-activated devices which can be used as medication reminders and bed sensors, smoke alarms and property exit sensors which automatically trigger an alarm if, for example, someone with dementia tries to exit the house at 3am or if someone with mobility issues doesn’t return to bed after 30 minutes.

Each year the council spends £11million on nursing and residential care homes, at an average cost of £768 per person per week. Without assistive technology, this bill could be much higher.

In fact, we estimate technology saves the council £500,000 every year – that’s money we can use to provide care for the growing number of people requiring it and other essential services such as providing homes for those in housing difficulty and supporting vulnerable children.

Please take time to read the budget proposals when they are published tomorrow and tell us what you think. We need to know that before we can make decisions.

I was pleased to see that our trading standards team has had yet another successful outcome in the courts, this time against two shop owners selling counterfeit goods.

Illegal cigarettes and tobacco pose serious health risks because the ingredients are not regulated properly, and in cases where duty hasn’t been paid, legitimate businesses will be out of pocket.

I hope these prosecutions act as a warning to other traders selling counterfeit goods that we will do everything in our power to protect the safety and rights of our residents.

In recent weeks columnists in this newspaper have been critical of our government’s record in house building, the academy school system and the use of PFI funding to pay for buildings.

From my memory, wasn’t it a Labour government that built fewer council houses than any other government since the war? PFI was a Mr Blair flagship scheme and a way of creating additional schools and hospitals with limited up-front costs and academies were championed and implemented by Labour. In both cases, Conservatives have had no choice but to pick up the bill.

Politicians are sometimes accused of having short 
memories, and it appears we have a case of that in 
Peterborough.

Finally, lots of organisations across the city are celebrating, after benefitting from our Communities Fund which has given away £300,000 since it was launched – money we have been able to give away thanks to funding we received from Government as part of the Integrated Communities Fund.

The latest round of winners included projects such as: The Peterborough Diwali Festival Committee, Kingsgate Community Church which will deliver a ‘Celebrate Parnwell’ project and African Caribbean which will put together a ‘Celebrating Windrush Day’ event on June 22 next year for the whole city to 
enjoy.