There is no doubt that this has been a tough year with everyone working hard with less money and resources to continue to help and support local people and communities.
As an organisation, we have seen many changes. Reduced central government funding has meant tough decisions and it is clear that many services can no longer be provided exactly as they were in the past.
A major restructure with management changes has led to a reduction in overall staff numbers. Thankfully, this has been without the need for large scale redundancies and we have been praised by the Audit Commission as a national leader in how to cut costs while protecting services and frontline jobs.
We are also working ever more closely with our partners to share costs and adopt a more planned, commissioning-based approach. Across the whole organisation we are looking at new and innovative ways to reorganise and deliver services and, where appropriate, put more services out to tender.
The shape of the Council and our role in delivering services may be changing, but our commitment to ensuring our communities prosper and that the needs of individuals and families are met remains firm.
We have pulled out all the stops to help boost Devon’s economy in a bleak financial climate; equally we are determined to meet the ever growing demand for health and care services, particularly in support of the elderly and most vulnerable. We have kept the county moving through severe weather conditions and recycled more waste than any other county.
We have responded well to Government initiatives by acting as a pilot or pathfinder to target support at troubled families, to overhaul special educational needs support and to review and reduce public sector property assets.
We are also helping our local communities to help themselves and take more direct responsibility for managing local services we’ve introduced community budgets, and a host of smaller initiatives including the snow warden scheme.
There are many achievements to be proud of over the past year. But with increasing pressure on budgets and an ever changing landscape it is clear that we must continue to be ever more efficient and creative in our approach if we are to continue to serve the people of Devon well.
Phil Norrey, Chief Executive
This has been a difficult year for all those involved in providing care and support to local people with growing demand, major change and very real pressure on budgets.
Despite this, we have been determined to continue to protect the most vulnerable and drive local improvements in health and social care services – particularly for those in greatest need.
We have also been able to invest more in some key services and ensure that many more people now enjoy greater choice, control and independence.
Our schools continue to perform well and we have worked hard with all concerned to respond positively to a new education landscape.
Jennie Stephens, Strategic Director – People
Our communities have also faced a hard year with rises in unemployment and a fall in average income. We have worked to help bolster the economy, secure new infrastructure and help communities experiencing hardship.
Despite the tough conditions, we continued to manage the everyday operations that keep Devon moving and working and are proud to have become the top recycling county.
We were able to keep all our libraries open and develop many as local community hubs. We are also exploring new ways to help local communities to help themselves and have more influence and control.
And finally, in Olympic year, we played host to the prestigious and high profile Tour of Britain cycling race helping to generate tourist spend and put Devon firmly on the international map for visitors.
Heather Barnes, Strategic Director – Place