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Oneplace - What We Said About Rural Norfolk
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Oneplace - What We Said About Rural Norfolk

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This presentation was given at the joint Norfolk RCC and Norfolk Rural Forum meeting in Feb 2010 it focuses on the rural issues hughlighted by the Audit Commission One Place report .

This presentation was given at the joint Norfolk RCC and Norfolk Rural Forum meeting in Feb 2010 it focuses on the rural issues hughlighted by the Audit Commission One Place report .

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  • Oneplace website went live on 9 th December 2010 An exciting new website – giving lots of information about what it is like to live somewhere and how good the organisations are at making a difference.
  • Together with other regulators – we have been working on something called a comprehensive area assessment. It recognises that how people live their lives is a result of the actions of many different organisations (many of these are in the public sector) – but it is the overall impact of these which can often determine quality of life – not necessarily how each individual organisation is working. Norfolk is a complicated place in terms of public services – and many people either do not know or do not care who provides services, as long as they are what they need and when they need them. Oneplace where you can see both an area assessment and also organisational assessments of all Norfolk’s public sector organisations It is reporting now – but has been part of a continuing assessment process that has been going on since April 09 and earlier It is an independent view from all of the regulators working together – pulled together by me, representing the AC It is there to help local partners make things better and also gives local people the information to hold local public sector bodies to account. Other bodies and groups are also mentioned as part of the role that they play in impacting on people’s lives.
  • Go onto the website and take a look for yourself – it is interactive – and easy to use. Main message is that Norfolk is a great place to live for most people – but it does depend on where you live, how much money you earn and how fit and healthy you are – there are significant inequalities that frequently get masked. Local services are generally good and excellent in some places. Local organisations are doing well overall. Oneplace allows for the allocation of red and green flags – a red flag is awarded when there is a significant issue in a local area and partners are not taking effective action to resolve the problem. A green flag is awarded for a specific innovative or interesting action that others would benefit from learning about.
  • Go onto the website and take a look for yourself – it is interactive – and easy to use. We told the story by reporting against the locally identified priorities – using the themes that partners had chosen within the LAA. Each of these had a rural dimension – and I thought it would be helpful if I could draw this out for you today.
  • We reported against the LAA themes – to keep a sensible focus. In the OAs we reported against an organisation’s use of its resources and its progress in achieving its identified local priorities. The Economy We didn’t look at this in huge detail in year 1 and will be looking in greater detail next year. We were also mindful of the recession in our reporting of progress. The Norfolk economy is withstanding the recession quite well – with average regional unemployment that is rising. It remains much higher in GY and Norwich. In July 2009 – Norfolk wide is 3.6% but 5.5% in GY and 4.8% in Norwich. Wages are still very low, with many people earning less than £10,000 – which means they need to supplement their working income with benefits. Eg. In rural areas about half of all the people who are in work are claiming some kind of work related benefit as they do not earn enough to live on. Some parts of the county struggle with high numbers of benefit claimants – i.e. Thetford, KL and Norwich. In some wards up to half the benefit claimants are on incapacity benefit – meaning they are unlikely to work again. Shaping Norfolk’s Future is the county-wide economic develop partnership that leads on economic matters across the county – but it struggles sometimes to carry out this leadership, with a number of the district councils forging ahead independently. This might work at a local level to some extent but is confusing, lacks consistency and is not generally good value for money. There has been a lot of physical regeneration – which has smartened up towns such as GY, KL and the city of Norwich and some new jobs have been created – most successfully in KL (Palm Paper). Much investment has been stimulated by Growth Point money – but this is now reducing and it is not clear what will stimulate investment going forward. There hasn’t been much progress on improving local skills levels – but this is key to ensuring that local people can get some of the better jobs that are being created – else they will go to outsiders who move into the county to take them. 12.7% of the working pop have no qualifications
  • We have already said that skills are low and that this is a problem. Partners have been working mainly on improving skills in schools with young people – the focus needs to be better in terms of raising skills in the adult population – a much harder task. Schools need to do better – 11 year olds are doing less well than in similar areas and since improvement is slower than in similar areas the gap is widening! Standards of reading and writing for 7 year olds fell, but remained about average. GCSE results are about average and have been improving a bit faster than similar areas – but there is a big gap between the achievement of the best and worse performing schools. Pupils going to school in KL&WN are disadvantaged as many local schools are not performing as well as elsewhere in the county – both at primary and secondary. Norfolk partners have been trying to improve education in Norfolk for some time and they are aware of the problems. The number of inadequate schools has reduced this year and truancy is reducing – but still needs to be better. More young people are getting higher level qualifications – but it is still low overall. Projects such as kickstart – moped loan to allow young people to get to training or jobs has been very effective – but relies on extra funds to keep it going – and is therefore at risk in tough times. Improving skills was reliant on a number of large scale further education improvements in Norfolk – such as those in KL, North Walsham, Gorleston and GY – but all of these have been stopped by the withdrawal of funding by the LSC. Education and skill is not just a CC responsibility – districts LSPs working hand in hand can make a difference. – West Norfolk partnership identified that a lack of skills will hold back their plans for regenerating the local economy – and has tried to focus on what skills are needed to support economic development – they are working with Anglia Ruskin Uni to influence the curriculum and working with local schools to encourage parents to gain basic skills.
  • The lack of affordable housing remains a problem across much of Norfolk – and the situation is much worse in rural areas – where it is difficult to build. Some parts of the county have done better than others – and have looked for innovative solutions. South Norfolk has done well and delivered 403 affordable homes – which is nearly half that provided by the county as a whole. The situation is made worse by the large number of empty homes in the county – 12,000 are currently empty with 5000 of those having been empty for a long time – district councils have not been good at using their powers to bring these homes back into use for local people. More needs to be done across the county to bring up the standard of private homes - especially in terms of providing affordable warmth – too many older people are still living with fuel poverty and cannot afford to be warm in the winter. Housing partners are not working well together to support people appropriately to live at home – especially in providing the necessary aids and adaptations they need – quickly – people are waiting too long. An even the new targets that have been set are longer than the nationally recommended guidelines.
  • We didn’t go into great detail in this area in year 1 – but will look more closely going forward. Norfolk is a very special place – with some exceptional natural environment – with a strong local desire to keep it special. Climate change is a big challenge for Norfolk – and local partners have drawn up plans to manage the affects of climate change and to try to reduce C02 emissions – but although the plans look good so far – we are not sure what happens next. Our report highlighted that coastal change was not properly planned for or managed – and that local communities were suffering as a result. We are particularly pleased to see that NNDC has recently been awarded £3.2 million for a series of projects which are about effectively managing the effects of coastal change – in a more joined up way – we look forward to closely monitoring the impact of these projects. We intend to keep a close watch on the challenges and opportunities presented by Rackheath Our report also noted the strengths across the county of recycling and composting – including the master composter scheme.
  • We have been looking at deprivation as this tells us a lot about the strength of local communities. We know that around 60% of people in Norfolk live in a rural area – and although there is deprivation – it is difficult to measure and gets lost in many of the normal counting systems. This means that rural areas often miss out on essential government grants. Local research has been good at identifying the rural issues – and all partners talk the talk – rural proofing etc. – but our report finds that it is still an add on – and there is not much evidence to say how effective any current actions are. Transport came up consistently as a problem across the county – but especially in rural areas – we do recognise that there have been improvements – but the message from local people is that they still can’t get where they need to – when they need to.
  • Norfolk is a health place overall to live. Inequalities of up to 19 years still exist and are not improving – GY – Nelson Ward and wards in SN There needs to be more recognition that health is everyone’s responsibility – not just the health bodies. Many groups, organisations, district councils, district LSPs are involved with health living – but it is still scatter-gun and not joined up. We reported this 2 years ago – but no real progress has been made in making efforts more effective. It is working better in GY – where there is a long history of work between the LSP and PCT – and actually local projects on the ground – fruit and veg van is an example of this The report also highlights that health bodies could work better together and this would result in more effective services for Norfolk residents.

Transcript

  • 1. What we said about Norfolk – Rural Challenges Sue Jewkes, Audit Commission www.direct.gov.uk/oneplace
  • 2. oneplace – where it all comes together CAA is an assessment from all of the regulators working together CAA is about places and people CAA it focuses on the key issues CAA will help local partners improve quality of life in their area CAA will provide an independent view of whether people are getting value for money from their local services CAA includes an assessment of individual public sector organisations www.direct.gov.uk/oneplace
  • 3. oneplace – where it all comes together
    • Norfolk is a good place to live
    • People are healthy, have jobs, and enjoy high quality countryside, coast and towns
    • Local services are generally good and local organisations are doing well overall
    • The story is generally positive
    • But not everyone has such an enjoyable lifestyle – there are big differences across the county
    • There are some things that are not working well – and some that could be better
    • Oneplace tells this story in easy to understand language – allowing people to dig deeper if they want to
    www.direct.gov.uk/oneplace
  • 4. oneplace – the rural story www.direct.gov.uk/oneplace
    • To ensure that our assessment had a local flavour – we reported our findings under the themes of the Local Area Agreement, which identified Norfolk priorities.
    • These are
      • Thriving Economy
      • Improving Skills and fulfilling aspirations
      • Improving Housing
      • Environmental Sustainability
      • Stronger Communities
      • Safer Communities
      • Supporting Independence
      • Improving Health and Well Being
    • Each of these had a rural dimension
  • 5. The economy
    • Wages are still very low – < £10,000 – many of these are in rural areas
    • This makes it difficult for them to find somewhere to live
    • People do not always enjoy the same high quality of life as others elsewhere in Norfolk
    • Local skills levels are low – 12.7% have no qualifications – probably higher in rural areas - progress to improve skills levels has been slow
    • Access to skills training can be difficult
    • We commented that a lot of investment has gone into physical regeneration in GY, Norwich and KL
    • Economic development and regeneration activity has been less in rural areas
    • IIC money has mainly been directed towards urban areas
    *An area of focus year 2
  • 6. Improving skills and fulfilling aspirations – how do you change the culture of learning?
    • Basic skills levels are low – this is recognised as a problem
    • Focus to date has been on young people – with some success: GCSE, NEET etc.
    • CYP could do better at school
    • We haven’t analysed school performance in rural areas – could be relevant
    • How easy is it to get access to childcare and early years education in rural area?
    • The number of young people getting higher level qualifications is improving but remains low
    • Kickstart continues to be successful – but what next?
    • Not everyone wants their teenagers riding a moped – needs other solutions
    • LSC withdrawal of funding – damaging to Norfolk’s aspirations – Paston is a feeder for many rural communities
    *We expect to see significant progress in the next year – as small changes are not enough
  • 7. Improving housing
    • Affordable housing is very important to local people
    • Not enough new or affordable homes to meet demand
    • Many people on the waiting list will never get housed
    • Problem is worse in rural areas
    • Second home ownership has meant local young people have to move out
    • Rural communities become less sustainable as schools, shops etc close
    • 12,000 empty homes – many of these will be in rural areas - districts not been good at bringing them back into use
    • Private housing needs to be better – especially for older people
    • Affordable warmth is a priority - but making this happen across a largely rural population is not happening effectively
    *We will be watching this area next year
  • 8. Environmental sustainability
    • Norfolk has a high quality natural environment – much of this is in rural areas – and a lot of effort goes into identifying and protecting what makes Norfolk special
    • It is not so obvious what efforts go into protecting and sustaining the communities of people who live in these areas
    • The communities living in areas affected by coastal change have not been effectively supported
      • National policies have not been joined up
      • Local leaders have had to fight hard for recognition
    *We will be delving deeper in this area next year
  • 9. Stronger Communities - this is what we said
    • Around 60% of people live in a rural community in Norfolk
    • They suffer as much disadvantage as those in more urban areas – but it is harder to measure
    • Government grants and schemes have mainly been targeted at places such as GY, Norwich, Thetford & KL
    • OSCI research findings are stark – but what happens next?
    • Tackling rural issues seems to be an ‘add-on’ and not part of normal business in Norfolk
    • What exactly is ‘rural proofing’?
    • Transport has improved – but remains a problem
    *We will be following up on rural issues
  • 10. Safer communities
    • It is a safe place to live and crime is falling
    • Fear of crime higher than it should be (the worried well?)
    • But there are variations – some areas experience higher crime than others
    • The majority of crime is not in rural areas – but people still want more Police presence
    • If we expect our Police to provide value for money – we would also expect that they would focus on the crime hot spots
    • Switching CDRP funding from rural to urban areas is not popular
    • It may not be about equal services – but about the right services
  • 11. Supporting independence (1) *Continuing to monitor progress in this area
    • An aging rural population is a challenge
    • People want to be able to live independently at home as long as possible
    • But they often need support to do this – and this is where the challenge lies
    • It is not realistic nor necessarily appropriate to roll out the same support services across the whole county
    • Things need to be done differently – mobile working, integrated teams, better use of technology
    • Organisations need to work much better together
    • This means stopping some things
  • 12. Supporting independence (2)
    • Transport and access to basic services continues to be a problem especially for older people – there is no blank cheque – but there needs to be smarter options
    • Too many people still end up dying in hospital when they want to be at home – how many of these are in rural areas where it is just too difficult to get them the appropriate levels of support?
    • We know that there is better support for carers in Norfolk than previously (although they still need better access to respite care) – but do we know how effectively carers needs are being met in rural communities when they is more chance of being isolated?
  • 13. Improving health and well being *Continuing to monitor the effectiveness of the health economy
    • Norfolk is a health place to live with good life expectancy
    • Inequalities are masked – 19 year difference
    • Health is generally better in the rural population than the urban one
    • Access to healthcare is more difficult
    • New and innovative solutions are needed – such as mobile dentistry
    • IT could offer some solutions – but only if the IT infrastructure such as high speed broadband is in place
    • Focus for year 2 – out of hours cover and ambulance response times – just what is reasonable to expect in more rural communities?
  • 14. Area Assessment – national focus
    • Cross inspectorate workshop to discuss rural issues
    • Regular forum to bring together emerging findings nationally
    • Will continue to look into lack of rural data to inform policy
    • Spending in rural/urban areas
    • Access to services
    • Access to Broadband