Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Council leader: ‘pain is inevitable’ as budget proposals are developed

The most senior councillor in Leeds is predicting that ‘pain is inevitable’ as council chiefs in Leeds begin the process to set next years budget.

Keith Wakefield, council leader, says he thinks ‘economy measures the like of which have not been seen since the 1930s, will have to take place across all areas of the council’s services in future’.

Initial proposals for next year’s budget will be presented to a meeting of the executive board next week (Dec 15).

Leeds City Council – like other public sector organisations - is facing a significant financial challenge. The draft budget is based on the need to save approximately £90m in 2011/2012.

This is because of government grant cuts (£50m), inflationary costs, a rising birth rate and ageing population and other pressures. (£40m).

However, because the government has delayed the announcement of its formula grant for local authorities, Leeds City Council still doesn’t have the precise details of how much money it will get.

In the meantime, a number of measures have been developed which the council thinks will help it go some way to meeting those financial challenges. They include:

• Changing the way the council provides care for the elderly to meet their needs better and save money.

• Reducing spend on the roads to ‘core maintenance only’.

• Considering what under-used or outdated buildings the council can close, or transfer to another provider, including day centres, libraries, and even some sports centres, saving a potential £5m a year.

• Completely overhauling the way the council buys goods and services to reduce or renegotiate contracts, tighten controls and improve bulk buying which should reduce spend by £10m annually.

• Charging for some events and increasing charges for some activities and services – raising as much as £6m in additional income.

• Reducing its workforce by around 2500-3000 posts over the next four years, mainly through voluntary schemes saving £30m in 2011/12 alone.

Once the government’s settlement has been announced, detailed spending proposals will be discussed and consultation on any subsequent service changes will be carried out.

Councillor Keith Wakefield, council leader and executive board member with responsibility for resources said:

“Inevitably, setting next year’s budget will be a very painful process. We simply cannot continue to do all the things we do now and some services will be vastly reduced, or stopped altogether.

“I firmly believe, however, that our main responsibility is to continue to provide for those people who most need our help and support, and this is where we are focussing our efforts, along with as many other front line services as we possibly can.

“Nobody comes into public service to make cuts like this, but the truth is that the cuts are already made before the money reaches us.”

ENDS
For media enquiries please contact:
Andy Carter, Leeds City Council (0113) 395 0393
e-mail: andy.carter@leeds.gov.uk

Greater focus for future city marketing, tourism and business investment

Council chiefs in Leeds are being asked to approve an imaginative new approach for marketing the city, encouraging visitors and tourists and attracting new investment from businesses.

Discussions between Leeds City Council, the Chamber of Commerce, Marketing Leeds and Financial Leeds have resulted in recommendations to bring together the functions and services currently provided by a number of different teams so they sit under the same roof.

Next week’s (December 15th) executive board will be asked to endorse the proposals.

Currently, city marketing and promotional activities are carried out by Marketing Leeds and inward investment is managed by a council team under the banner of ‘Locate in Leeds’.

In addition, leisure and tourism functions are the responsibility of the ‘Visit Leeds’ team, there is a separate Leeds visitor centre at the railway station and a team using the name ‘Conference Leeds’ looks after business tourism such as conferences and events.

Financial Leeds also currently plays an important role in marketing and inward investment activities for the professional and business services sector within the city.

The report, to be discussed by councillors, concludes that Leeds has not been ‘sufficiently strategic’ in its overall thinking and ambition and suggests that there needs to be a ‘compelling and new agenda’ which benefits the city’s economy.

It suggests a public/private company arrangement, as is currently established for both Marketing Leeds and Financial Leeds, would be the most appropriate model to develop a new combined service offer. It is therefore proposed that the current company arrangements established for Marketing Leeds are utilised and evolved into the new delivery vehicle in order to speed up the creation of the new service, to save on cost and ensure that private sector partners continue to be a pivotal part of the amalgamated service.


Such an approach is expected to maximise public sector support at a time of funding pressures and to encourage further private sector involvement in an important city ambition.

The report also acknowledges the significant contribution the various functions/services have already made to raising Leeds’ profile and encouraging investment.

The proposals are being developed against the backdrop of public sector budget reductions, which present significant financial challenges to a number of services.

However, the report says this is not the only driver. It highlights the fact that the city has a newly stated ambition for Leeds to be the ‘best city in the UK’ and says there is a need to ensure that ‘the right resources are in place to support this’. It goes on, ‘for the long-term benefit of Leeds, now is the time to provide a renewed focus on marketing the city, attracting investment and creating jobs’.

Listing some of the benefits, the report says potential duplication and overlap of activity will be avoided, overheads can be cut and competition to attract public sector funding can be minimised.

Discussions are also underway with a number of other organisations about what role they could play in any renewed city marketing, tourism and inward investment service.

Staff affected, and their trade union representatives, will be consulted.

Cllr Keith Wakefield, council leader, said:

“Leeds has a very successful and buoyant economy and despite the recent recession, Leeds has shown resilience – and that’s down, in part, to the various organisations which have worked hard to raise the city’s profile and attract investment. However, despite that, we know that with the current reductions in public spending, we need to do even more with our efforts on marketing, tourism and inward investment functions to attract further investment in the city. Bringing them together as one will go a long way to achieving this and will give a renewed focus on our refreshed ambition for Leeds to become the ‘best city in the UK’.

Gary Lumby, president, Leeds Chamber of Commerce said:

“We believe the proposals create a Leeds solution that will stand the test of time and truly engage the business sector in driving forward a compelling agenda for the overall economic benefit of the city.”

Nigel McClea, chairman, Marketing Leeds said:

“The whole Marketing Leeds Board and Executive team are fully supportive of the proposals as they represent the ‘joined-up thinking’ that our private sector Champions and City Partners have long advocated and we are delighted that council chiefs are taking such a far sighted approach.”

Joanne Lake, chairman, Financial Leeds said:

“I am very proud of what Financial Leeds has been able to achieve over recent years and the professional and business services sector continues to be the sector projecting greatest growth in the future. The board of Financial Leeds is very supportive of these proposals and we look forward to being involved in the new arrangements.”

ENDS
For media enquiries please contact:
Andy Carter, Leeds City Council (0113) 395 0393
e-mail: andy.carter@leeds.gov.uk

Notes to editors

Marketing Leeds is the city’s strategic marketing organisation, providing a leadership role for the city’s marketing. It aims to raise the profile of Leeds as a vibrant, dynamic, internationally competitive city and as the gateway to Yorkshire and the UK.

It was created from a powerful partnership between the public and private sectors and continues to receive funding from three sources: Leeds City Council, Yorkshire Forward and from the private sector through its champions scheme.

The company is limited by guarantee, with a board of directors drawn from a cross section of the business community and the council.

Financial Leeds (formerly Leeds Financial Services Initiative, LFSI) is a private sector led partnership organisation whose primary aims are to promote the financial and professional services capability of the Leeds City Region, which has the largest concentration of FPS sector organisations outside London, to develop skills and business innovation, and to improve the cohesion of the sector throughout the region.

Financial Leeds currently has over 120 firms and organisations as subscription members, including the major financial and professional services organisations in Leeds.

Locate in Leeds is the council’s business investment service. It provides a property location service for start up companies, existing Leeds business and companies looking to relocate or expand their operations to Leeds.

The service handles enquires from around 2,000 businesses every year. It is also responsible for promoting the city as a location for business and investment and has played a key role in promoting Leeds, and more recently the wider city region, at the international property event MIPIM and other national and international events.

Conference Leeds is the official convention bureau for Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield, Wakefield and Calderdale. The “super convention bureau” represents over 280 venues and 40 suppliers.

Conference Leeds is the driving force of Yorkshire’s business tourism industry.

Business tourism generates £777m to the economy of West Yorkshire each year, 5.79 million delegates attend business tourism events in West Yorkshire annually and Leeds is ranked the 5th most popular destination for the corporate market in the British Meetings and Events Industry Survey 2010.

Visit Leeds, part of Leeds City Council, is the official leisure tourism body for the city of Leeds . It is responsible for marketing the city to domestic staying, day and group visitors. Visit Leeds objectives are to contribute to the growth of the Leeds leisure tourism economy, which has an estimated 2.47 million staying and 32.5 million leisure day visitors, spend of £1,157million direct and indirect to the leisure tourism economy and supports more than 15,000 jobs.

Leeds Visitor Centre is one of 300 networked tourist information centres in England. The centre helps visitors to and residents of Leeds by providing a number of information and bookable services including - visitor information for the Leeds and Yorkshire region, accommodation bookings, tickets for major events, transport advice and ticketing. In 2008 Leeds Visitor Centre helped 528,729 customers to get the most out of Leeds and the wider region and turned over just under £1m in ticket sales and bookings.

Plans to re-shape mental health services in Leeds

Plans to transform mental health services in Leeds will be discussed at a meeting of the council’s executive board next week.

The proposals outline how the service will be reorganised to make sure that it is fit for purpose for the future. Current unnecessary duplication of services in the city will be addressed and people’s recovery will be at the heart of what is offered.

A recent consultation on mental health day services, which sought the views of service users and other interested parties, have informed the proposals, which will be delivered in four phases.

Amongst the range of mental health services provided by the council are a counselling and support service known as the Crisis Centre, three day centres, the community alternatives team, social enterprise-type services based around gardening and cooking, and three supported living units.

The NHS have made considerable investment for people with major mental health issues in recent years, and their crisis resolution and home treatment teams offer adequate out of hours, emergency support. This has now begun to duplicate the counselling service provided by the council, so it is proposed to close the Crisis Centre by April 2011. People with less acute needs will be directly referred to other council mental health services as appropriate.

In the current tough financial climate, it is difficult to justify continuing to run the Crisis Centre when significant provision from the NHS and the voluntary sector exists in the city. Staff at the centre have been told of the proposals and, if approved, will be helped to find suitable employment within the NHS or other council services.

Also proposed is a complete rethink of council-provided mental health day services. Following consultation with service users, the plans would see a move away from traditional services delivered from three buildings to having one day centre (operating from the new Lovell Park Centre), a community team and a social enterprise programme. Each service user will be individually assessed to put together a programme of appropriate activities to meet their needs. Because of long-term staff vacancies in this service, it is envisaged that implementing these changes will be relatively straightforward. Consultation with staff affected by the proposed changes will take place from January 2011.

The third phase of the modernisation programme is to create a new system of mental health day services, in partnership with NHS Leeds, via a competitive tendering exercise. Of the £2.823m currently invested by adult social care services in mental health care in Leeds, £1.059m is spent on services provided by the council and £1.764m on services delivered by the voluntary sector. This re-commissioning is expected to deliver cost efficiencies in the region of 25% and deliver an overall better quality service.

The final phase will be a review of council-provided supported accommodation, as many other specialist providers locally and nationally already provide these services. At present, there are three hostels in Leeds for people experiencing mental illness, which are being replaced by the independent living project. A further report detailing options going forward will be presented to executive board in July 2011.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive board member with responsibility for adult social care said:
“It is evident that there is a lot of duplication within mental health care services in the city, and we need to address this to make sure that people’s needs are being met effectively.

“Adult social care budgets are tighter than ever and by working with NHS Leeds and our voluntary sector partners, we strongly believe that we can develop a high quality, efficient service for the future.

“Extensive consultation with our partners and service users has already been carried out through the ‘i3 project’. This highlighted the need for a more inclusive service in Leeds, focusing on recovery through community-based support for individuals.

“This modernisation will bring mental health care services in the city into the 21st century and give us the opportunity to provide a more personalised approach for our clients, who are always our main priority.”

Ends
For media enquiries, please contact;
Claire Macklam, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1578
Email: claire.macklam@leeds.gov.uk

Changes proposed to alter visitor attraction entry fees

A proposal to alter entry fees at Tropical World and Home Farm in Leeds is to be discussed by senior councillors next week.

At the meeting of Leeds City Council’s executive board on Wednesday 15 December, a plan to remove free entry for LEEDSCard and Breezecard holders to the two visitor attractions and replace them with discounted admission will be discussed.

Both council-managed venues – Tropical World in Roundhay and Home Farm at Temple Newsam – are currently free to visit for anyone who is a member of the council-run leisure membership schemes LEEDSCard (for anyone 19 and over) and Breezecard (for anyone aged 18 and under).

The two venues are the only council-managed attractions to offer free admission in this way and due to budgetary pressures it is no longer viable to continue the offer in its current form. Under the proposal the entry fees for cardholders would change from January 2 2011 to match that offered at other council-managed venues such as Temple Newsam House and Lotherton Hall.

Under the plans, LEEDSCard members would be given a 20 per cent discount off the full admission price at Tropical World and Home Farm, while Breezecard holders and LEEDSCard Extra holders who receive income or disability-related benefits would be given a 50 per cent discount. Admission would remain free for all under-fives.

The changes have been discussed with the Ziff family, who helped create and develop Tropical World as a visitor attraction with their generosity being recognised in the summer of 2008 when the building was renamed 'The Arnold and Majorie Ziff Tropical World' in honour of the local benefactors.

Leeds City Council executive member for leisure Councillor Adam Ogilvie said:

“We have reluctantly come to the conclusion that it is no longer viable to continue offering free access to Tropical World and Home Farm to LEEDSCard and Breezecard holders.

“The financial pressures we are facing as a council meant we have had to take a hard look at every aspect of council services and facilities, and while no longer being free we think this proposal still offers good value for those wishing to visit these two attractions.”

If the executive board approve the plans, the new price structure is due to come into effect for all LEEDSCard and Breezecard holders from Sunday 2 January 2011.

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Leisure media relations officer,
Tel 0113 247 5472, Email: roger.boyde@leeds.gov.uk

Council to consult on reshaping of adult social care services in Leeds

Council chiefs will be asked to approve plans to start a programme of consultation with Leeds’ residents on proposals to reshape key adult social care services in the city, at a meeting of executive board next week.

The proposals offer recommendations for the future of long term residential and day care for older people based on current and future demand, and look at the effect of removing subsidies on charges for non-residential adult social care services for people that can afford to pay more.

With an ever increasing demand for adult social care services and a 27% reduction in the council’s overall budget over the next four years, the need to look at how these services are delivered has never been greater.

It also provides an opportunity to streamline and modernise services so that they meet people’s changing expectations and ensure the best possible care is provided within the resources available.

National research shows that older people increasingly want to be better supported so that they can live in their own homes for longer. At last month’s meeting of the council’s executive board, plans to establish a city-wide reablement service in Leeds were approved, which will help to prevent premature entry into residential care. In addition to this, personal budgets and self-directed support will allow people to arrange their own care to suit their individual needs, making it possible for them to live independently for longer.

The number of people over the age of 85 in Leeds is expected to increase by 11% by 2014 and 70% by 2029. It is crucial that the council is able to support those with the highest and most complex needs, whilst making sure that those with low to moderate needs are able to access services that allow them to remain independent.

The council has 19 residential care homes (628 beds) providing a combination of standard care, respite care and specialist care for dementia and the physically frail. Most of these establishments were built in the 1960s and are now in desperate need of refurbishment. The independent sector provides 1586 beds, which in the main are more modern facilities. People going into residential care want to live in a place that at least matches the surroundings that they previously enjoyed. To bring council-owned facilities up to this standard would require considerable additional investment, which simply isn’t available.

An inquiry by the council’s adult social care scrutiny board accepts that people’s expectations about residential care accommodation have increased, and that the current provision is not sustainable in the long term due to the cost of bringing this up to the necessary standards. They fully support a review of future provision looking at all alternative options.

The council has 16 day centres for older people; three of which provide services for people with dementia and seven are linked to residential care homes. Demand for places at these centres is falling, which is a direct result of more people using personal budgets and self-directed support to access the services that they want and need from their local communities. Current attendance at the centres ranges between 39% and 62%, which means that keeping them all open is not an option.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive board member with responsibility for adult social care said:
“We are facing some really difficult decisions in adult social care, as the number of older people in the city continues to grow and our budgets continue to be squeezed.

“We need to make sure that older people have the support they need to be able to stay in their own homes for as long as possible, which is what the majority of them want, and to make sure that we have the services in place to help them remain independent.

“In order to be able to offer a good quality service in the future we have to look now at what we currently do and what realistically we are able to offer going forward.”

Leeds council has a long history of subsidising charges for non-residential adult social care services. In recent years some other councils have reduced their subsidies, while Leeds have only taken small steps towards this. This has resulted in a system where different services are subsidised at different rates, or not at all. In light of this and the current challenging economic climate, the council need to look at how services are funded going forward and the effect that removing subsidies would have on customers.

Following financial assessment, currently one third of customers do not pay for their services, and a further third pay at the level of their assessed charge. These customers will not be affected by the proposed changes. The remaining third would be asked to pay more for their services, but no more than their financial assessment calculates that they can afford. The consultation will look at whether any increases should be phased in and if so how.

Councillor Yeadon added:
“As the number of older people in the city increases, we need to look closely at what we can afford to do in the future.

“It is simply not an option to do nothing. We need to make decisions now so that we have the right support in place to take care of our most vulnerable adults, and help more able people to live independently for as long as possible.

“We realise that these proposals may worry some of our customers, which is why we will consult with them before any final decisions are made.

“The needs of our service users are our prime concern, and their opinions will help us to shape how our services will be delivered in the future. I would like to emphasis that we are seeking approval to start a consultation, and I would encourage everyone to get involved in this to make sure their views are taken into account.”

Ends

For media enquiries, please contact;
Claire Macklam, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1578
Email: claire.macklam@leeds.gov.uk

Senior councillors to discuss library changes consultation plan

Proposals to consult with the public over possible improvements to library services in Leeds are to be discussed by senior councillors next week (15 December).

Members of the executive board are being asked to give the go-ahead for consultation with residents on possible changes which would see some libraries open for longer, greatly improved mobile library services and whether some libraries should have cafes in them.

The consultation will also ask for Leeds residents’ views on bringing a range of council and local services together under the same roof in parts of the city, as has been successfully seen at the new Compton Centre in Harehills and the Reginald Centre in Chapeltown.

The possible changes have been based on consultation already held with library users, who have called for greater flexibility from their library services in terms of longer opening hours, increased access to computers and the internet, a wider selection of books and the ability to use new technology formats such as e-books.

Leeds currently has 53 libraries, which in the financial year 2009/2010 received four million visits. Of those, 1.5 million visits were to four of those libraries and 2.8 million visits were made to 13 libraries.

Twenty of the libraries received a total of 132,000 visits in 12 months and due to their limited opening hours valuable book stock currently cannot be fully accessed.

In these areas, the consultation will ask local people about the continued viability of these libraries and their views on introducing a possible new service. This would be based on regular visits direct to communities by improved modern mobile libraries such as the new state-of-the-art children and family mobile, taking services to them rather than expecting people to travel themselves to a static building.

Opening hours at many other libraries would be extended under these proposals, with the number of libraries being open for over 60 hours a week rising from four to 15 and an overall rise across the city of over 40 hours in total.

Executive board member with responsibility for libraries Councillor Adam Ogilvie said:

“This consultation is all about giving the people of Leeds the chance to tell us what kind of library service they want. I would like to make it clear that nothing has been decided – this is the start of the debate and the chance for everyone to let us have their views.

“The key factor behind this consultation is the need to modernise the service and offer residents improved access to a range of services which reflects the fact people are increasingly accessing library services without even physically needing to visit a library building.

“With that in mind in any discussion about New Chapter it is very important to keep the service and the role of our current buildings in providing that service separate. The key to the success of any change is that it is what people want, so should the consultation go ahead it is absolutely vital residents tell us what they think.”

Should the executive board approve the consultation plan, it would begin immediately and last for 10 weeks. Details and feedback forms will be available in every library and on the council website, as well as utilising the council’s Talking Point and Citizens Panel consultation channels, online surveys and social networking sites. Libraries staff will also be consulting with local stakeholders and attending public community meetings across the city.


ENDS

For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, leisure media relations officer,
Tel 0113 247 5472, Email: roger.boyde@leeds.gov.uk

Primary and secondary school admissions consultation underway

Education Leeds is currently consulting on admission arrangements for primary and secondary schools in 2012/2013.

The consultation, which ends on 4 February, is an opportunity for parents or carers of school age children and members of community groups to state their views on suggested changes.

Following feedback from the admissions forum, parents and councillors, Education Leeds is consulting on whether or not to hold in year waiting lists for school transfers. At present, applications are dealt with as they are made and it’s possible for a place to be allocated to a child on one day from some distance away but a request arrive the next day for a family living much nearer. Waiting lists could streamline the process and help deliver a more efficient service.

Sibling priority, which means children with a brother or sister at a particular school are given priority to attend themselves, was considered to be good practice but national opinion has suggested it could be unfair. Although Education Leeds is not proposing to remove it, it is asking whether sibling priority should change so it also depends on where you live.

Councillor Jane Dowson, executive board member for learning at Leeds City Council, said:
“Any changes to the way the admissions process works could affect many families across the city. The input from parents, carers and community groups is vital to ensure all opinions are gathered before a final decision is made.”

Chris Edwards, chief executive of Education Leeds, said:
“Choosing the right school is an important decision and changes to the admissions arrangements will only be made to make it a fairer and simpler process. It’s important that views are gathered from anyone who could be affected and I would urge all interested parties to reply by the 4 February deadline.”

The outcomes of the consultation will be used to write a report for the admission forum and Leeds City Council’s executive board. If it’s agreed that in year waiting lists will be held this will come into force from September 2011. Any other agreed changes will come into force for entry in September 2012.

The consultation is available on the Education Leeds website (www.educationleeds.gov.uk) by following links to the admissions pages. Comments can also be posted to Education Leeds admissions team at: Floor 10 West, Merrion House, 110 Merrion Centre, Leeds, LS2 8DT. All comments need to be made by 4 February 2011.

To help with primary school admissions in September 2011, Education Leeds is holding drop-in sessions across the city throughout December. No appointment is needed and the sessions offer impartial advice about how to apply and explain how places are allocated at Leeds schools.

If your child is due to start Reception in September 2011 and you have any questions about applying for your child’s school place please come and visit us on one of the following dates: Wednesday 8 December, 10am until 2pm, The Compton Centre, Harehills Lane, LS9 7BG; Friday 10 December, 10am until 2pm, City Centre One Stop, Great George Street. LS2 8BA; Monday 13 December, 10am until 2pm, St George’s Centre, St George’s Road, LS10 4UZ; Friday 17 December, 10am until 2pm, South Seacroft Centre, 90-95 Moresdale Lane, LS14 6GG.

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact:
Jon Crampton, Leeds City Council press office, 0113 3951577
Email: jon.crampton@leeds.gov.uk