'Fantastic' staff propping up vital services for vulnerable people in Hartlepool as cuts bite

Fantastic staff are the ‘biggest asset’ in propping up vital services for vulnerable people as council chiefs battle funding cuts, say council chiefs.

Saturday, 15th June 2019, 3:25 pm
Hartlepool Borough Council's civic centre headquarters in Victoria Road.
Hartlepool Borough Council's civic centre headquarters in Victoria Road.

Officers leading Hartlepool Borough Council’s adult and community based services said they receive ‘very good’ feedback for the offer they put on for people in the town.

Praise was given for the community hub offer, the home library service, care homes, the level of carers and the Hartlepool Now help and support online and app.

However, concerns were raised over future budget pressures facing the council following several years of cuts and an increasing demand on services.

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Jill Harrison, director of adult and community based services, said: “We have had a 45% cut in the grant the council receives since 2013/14, obviously that has presented some challenges.”

She said it was not yet clear if there will be further cuts or funding freezes.

But despite the pressures, Ms Harrison said staff providing an excellent service.

“Generally performance in adult services is very good, we get very good feedback from people who use our service,” she said.

“We recognise staff are a huge asset, they are our biggest asset, and we know we have a fantastic workforce, a huge number of staff who would absolutely go the extra mile and provide really good services in some very challenging circumstances, but we recognise we need to look after our staff as well.”

Ms Harrison said pressures on the budget, including from people living longer, which she said was “fantastic” but did mean a greater demand for services. 

Increasing numbers of adults with mental health needs or learning disabilities requiring support are also adding to the pressures, she said, which is why it is important to support people to be independent for as long as possible.

Coun Stephen Thomas shared the concerns and added it was important care staff were supported.

He said: “Although we haven’t cut frontline services it has come at a time when demand for services is rapidly increasing.

“There is also a lot of pressure on the workforce within care settings. For too long people who work within care settings within care homes, they are underpaid, undervalued, very often poorly trained, there needs to be a proper development structure.”