It is often forgotten district councils have a central role in social care by reducing the burden on the sector and improving lives.
Most residents would be forgiven for not knowing districts play a vital role in solving small problems before they become large ones. Yet, as the Government understandably focuses on the big numbers, it is disappointing that our role in reducing the demand for expensive services does not seem to be recognised in the draft local government finance settlement, with some 88 districts being unable to benefit from the changes to council tax levels as the £5 threshold has remained static.
Two health leaders who do recognise the central role of district councils are NHS Confederation chairman Stephen Dorrell and Public Health England chief executive Duncan Selbie. Both of these figures know that a key route to reducing demand is the provision of decent housing that is adapted to the needs of residents at all stages of their lives. Delivering good housing of the right type improves family outcomes. It improves mental wellbeing and is delivered one street at a time. Mr Dorrell and Mr Selbie will be saying more about our role in prevention and delivering healthy outcomes at the District Councils’ Network (DCN) conference next week.
The integral role of districts in social care cannot be over-emphasised and goes beyond the provision of decent homes. Districts help to reduce demand on social care and the NHS by preventing people needing to access these services through provision of leisure and recreational facilities, offering debt advice, tackling homelessness and supporting troubled families.
District councils across England are focused on improving lives and solving problems, which helps our county colleagues make their money go further.
Investment in prevention is key to driving down costs and improving people’s lives over the long term. This will reduce the burden on our county colleagues in the face of significantly reduced budgets.
Cllr John Fuller is chairman of the DCN and leader of South Norfolk DC