The council has agreed to carry out consultation on proposals to reduce the level of council tax support to some claimants.  With a significant budget gap over the next three years of around £36m Northumberland County Council says it needs to explore all possible options to help it find savings to meet that target. 

Currently, of the 15,425 working age claimants in Northumberland, 12,010 receive 100% support and currently have no bill to pay. If proposals are agreed they would affect all claimants.  Almost every other local authority in the region has reduced its Council Tax Support in recent years at varying levels and, if approved, Northumberland’s would be one of the smallest reductions in the North East.  It would also be one of the smallest Council Tax reductions in the whole country. 

Councillor Nick Oliver, Cabinet Member for Corporate Resources, said: “We take no pleasure in proposing changes to this scheme but we have to find a balanced budget.  We have to make some tough decisions over the coming years to balance the books, which we have a statutory duty to do.” 

 

The consultation, which will include a wide range of stakeholders including residents, parish and town councils and voluntary sector organisations, will run between September 24 and November 2.  

Details of how to get involved will be published nearer the time.

Almost one in five nurseries and other early years childcare providers in Northumberland have closed since 2015, according to data published by Ofsted.  The Pre-school Learning Alliance has called for “urgent action” to address a funding crisis it says has left more than 40% of providers in England contemplating closure next year.  

Any provider who cares for early years children - from birth up until the August following their fifth birthday - must be registered with Ofsted.  In Northumberland, there were 313 such providers on the register at the end of March 2018, 75 fewer than in March 2015.  This is one of the biggest drops in providers seen by any local authority in England.  

All three and four-year-olds in England are entitled to 15 hours of free childcare per week during term time.  But since September 2017, parents can claim an additional 15 hours if both they and their partner earn less than £100,000 a year but more than the equivalent of 16 hours at the minimum wage.  The Pre-school Learning Alliance argues that the funding the Government provides for the scheme is not enough to cover the costs incurred by providers.

Almost three quarters of local authorities in England lost early years providers in the first seven months after the 30 hours scheme was introduced, while 98% have seen a drop since 2015. In Northumberland, there were 13 fewer providers at the end of March 2018 than there were before the policy changed in September.

Research undertaken by the organisation has found that more than four in ten providers are now charging parents for extras such as lunches or nappies to make up the shortfall in funding. This means providers in poorer areas, where parents are not able to pay more, are struggling the most. In Northumberland, the number of places available at the end of March had fallen by just 4% from the previous year, while the number of providers fell by 5%.
51 of the 75 providers lost since 2015 were childminders.

You're probably aware that you can search the Care Quality Commission website for care services by postcode or town, but did you know that you can also find services by local authority area?

Use the drop down menu on the home page to select your local authority.  If you want to see only one kind of service - for example, GP surgeries or care homes - use the tools on the left of the search results to refine your search: www.cqc.org.uk/help-advice/help-choosing-care-services/find-services-your-local-authority-area

 

Northumberland Parent Carer Forum, In It Together, is working with Northumberland County Council to raise awareness of local services and support for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and their families.


Over 30 services are taking part in the roadshows including NHS, social care, Northumberland County Council’s disabled children's team, education and training providers, and voluntary organisations. 

The roadshows are drop in events so there is no need to book. They will take place from 10am to 4pm on; 

  • Thursday 20 September at Hexham Mart, Tyne Green Hexham, NE46 3SG
  • Monday 1 October at Ashington Hirst Welfare Centre, Alexandra Road, Ashington, NE63 9HN
  • Thursday 25 October at Alnwick Rugby Club, Willowburn Avenue, Alnwick, NE66 1BE

Roadshows will include a range of information, advice and support that families children and young people aged 0 -25 with (SEND) would find useful. 

There will also be information about opportunities in education, supported employment, leisure, as well as information about specific conditions such as Autism and Dyslexia.

Visit the Northumberland Local Offer website to find out more about local services, information and advice for children, young people with SEND and their families at www.northumberland.gov.uk/localoffer 

Alternatively contact In It Together by calling 07729192909 or emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,  or the Northumberland SEND Information Advice and Support Service by calling 01670 623 555 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Partners at Healthwatch England have kicked off a project looking at mental health at all stages of life.  The first focus is maternal mental health.   They would like anyone who is pregnant or has had children in the past 3 years to help with this important work by taking a moment to fill in this survey.

“We know that this can be a challenging topic to talk about, so please be assured all responses will be completely anonymous and if there are any questions you don’t want to answer, then don’t feel like you have to.”

Responses will be reported on as a set and no respondents will be identified.  Please share this information with any relevant parties.