Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Celebrating great business

The Horsham, Crawley & Mid Sussex Branch of the Federation of Small Businesses held a reception to celebrate their Business Friendly Awards last week.

It is part of their Prompt Payment Campaign which they have been working with the Department of Business Innovation and Skills to highlight the damaging implications for small businesses arising from late payment. They have been calling on both the private and public sector to sign up to the Prompt Payment Code.

This gives a clear message to small businesses that they will be paid promptly within clearly defined terms – something reassuring for small business who are dealing with large organisations.

West Sussex has a high proportion – 96% - of small businesses and West Sussex County Council has signed up to the Prompt Payment Scheme which provides payment within 30 days of businesses submitting their invoices.

It was good to see Horsham and Crawley Councils also receive awards but a particular delight was when West Sussex County Council received the most business friendly award. This was very much down to the Be the Business Scheme which has been run by the County Council for the last two years and has undoubtedly been very successful creating more than 90 jobs and safeguarding a further 250. Be the Business gives an additional source of match funding for businesses seeking to expand or diversify. 

I was particularly pleased to see Jim Partridge receive an award, especially as he has been a recipient of a Be the Business Grant with his exiting project in Shoreham which has links to retraining in Lewes Prison.

Although the economy is improving and there is low unemployment in the County we know that our Small Businesses often need support and help. The Prompt Payment Scheme helps as has our Be the Business Scheme. On the 13th February the County Council formally adopted the Future West Sussex Plan one of the three key priorities is the Economy. We need to ensure that there is strong vibrant economy which provides a range of employment for our residents. So it is important that WSCC plays its part  to support and engage with Small Businesses which is one of the reasons I support the Federation of Small Businesses.

Louise Goldsmith.
Leader West Sussex County Council
Chichester West Division.

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Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Budget day for WSCC

Friday the 13th is a significant day as it is Full County Council where the Future West Sussex Plan will be formally presented to Council and debated.

Considerable work has gone into the West Sussex Future Plan over the last couple of years as we planned to meet the challenge of £124 million pounds of savings.

Being very clear about what you want to achieve is always important but when you have a lot less money it becomes a real driving force. The plan focuses on 3 core priorities – Start of Life, The Economy and Later Life with some guiding principles.

We are there to help people to help themselves, we are there in an emergency and we are there to look after the weak and the vulnerable. So the plan becomes the driving force for this year’s budget and future ones.

 So what does this budget hold for our residents?

 Well perhaps most importantly it will not cost our residents a penny more on their Council Tax Bill as this is the 5th consecutive year we have not increased the Council Tax, preferring to take the Government’s incentive not to increase the council Tax.

This is something I am particularly proud of as I know how, from comments from residents,  that this means a lot.

However, we have had to make savings this year and the next. Although our budget is more than 500 million the principles of we manage it are similar to any household budget. We look at all our outgoings and see what is essential, not so essential and nice to haves. Can we get something cheaper, could we renegotiate contracts and make savings, if we invest in something will it mean the ongoing cost is less? These are challenges and questions we have made over the last year to get us to where we are today.

Next year will see us spend more than £500 million on key services across West Sussex. And, despite the challenging financial climate, we are also ploughing nearly £140 million worth of capital investment back into West Sussex.

Key capital investment next year includes:

•£6.4million investment in high speed broadband capability across the county;

•A further £15m in the Better Roads programme to improve many of the county’s residential and rural roads;

•Significant investment in infrastructure improvements, including £20m investment in economic development, to ensure businesses can flourish;

Among the measures included in the revenue budget for next year are:

•£5m to alleviate pressure on the Council’s adult services’ budget arising from the increasing number of older residents;

•£900,000 in support of the Local Welfare Provision Fund which helps families and individuals in crisis.

•£5m further investment in the Council’s Think Family programme, which helps get out of work parents back to work and helps those families who need a little bit more support.

•£1.4m to address rising demand within the Child Disability budget

•£0.9m more to meet the rising amount of waste requiring disposal.

You can watch Friday’s meeting live via webcast from www.westsussex.gov.uk or pop along. It’s a public meeting and we always welcome residents. The meeting starts at 10.30am and is being held in Chichester College


Louise Goldsmith.
Leader West Sussex County Council
Chichester West Division.

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Wednesday, 4 February 2015

The Care Act and what it means for us all

There has been quite a bit going on at County Hall what with putting the final touches to the Budget and the West Sussex Plan ready for Full County Council on Friday 13 February.

However, what has been taking more time, and will certainly continue to do so, is the work currently underway to implement the requirements of the Care Act, which start coming into effect from 1 April.

This Act received royal assent back in May 2014.

It is a substantial piece of legislation which should be welcomed for it has swept aside much of the previous legislation around social care in the past.

It is very much person-centred, putting the emotional wellbeing of the resident at the very centre of decisions made about their care and support – and for me that is really important.

It is in three main parts – part one deals with the reform of adult social care and support legislation and is structured around an individual’s journey through the reformed system, be they someone in need of care or, equally important, their carer.

Part two of the Act seeks to improve care standards by putting people and their carers in control of their care and support.

Part three of the Act sets up Health Education England and Health Research Authority.

All this means big changes for the County Council Social Services and, last year, we realigned our service to be ready to meet the challenges of this Act, but there is still so much more to be done.

We also know that there are additional financial implications, which is why the government has given us £5.8 million and we have made a further allocation so we have £8 million to ensure we are meeting the requirements of this Act– but it is possible we will need more so we have made provisions.

Very importantly the Act has, for the first time in primary legislation, set out the local authority’s responsibility for Adult Safeguarding, something I think was much needed and is to be greatly welcomed. This includes a responsibility to ensure we conduct enquiries into cases of neglect or abuse, establishing a Safeguarding Adults Board – which we have done - and, also, very importantly information sharing.

We must also make sure that people who would have great difficulty in being involved in their social care planning, and who do not have someone else to represent them, are provided with someone to speak on their behalf – an independent advocate. 

These are just a couple of examples in the Care Act. There is an awful, awful lot more and reading through all the detail it is good to see the role of the carer is not only acknowledged but very much part of the changes.

While the way most parts of the Act are delivered is decided by the Government, some aspects can be decided locally. We are currently holding a public consultation offering people the chance to comment on our proposals for these areas, and as part of this we have held a series of consultation evenings. I attended one last week and not only was it informative, but gave the opportunity for people to ask questions. However there is a lot of information – too much to give here - so please visit www.westsussex.gov.uk/careact if you would like to find out more and take part in a short survey. The consultation closes on Wednesday 11 February.

There are still some details which need further clarification and currently we are having regular updates from Government and we will, of course, pass this information on.

Councillors have also had the opportunity to learn about the Care Act and we will be continuing with additional information so that everyone is fully briefed. But most importantly, work will be on-going to ensure that the County Council is best placed to deliver a good service based on the Care Act to our residents who need it.


Louise Goldsmith.
Leader West Sussex County Council
Chichester West Division.

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