Essex: Plans for public services could see benefits of more than �400million

MORE than �400million could be realised in savings and benefits through a new way of providing public services in Essex.

Councils, the police, health and criminal justice services, as well as community groups, have come up with proposals which include tackling domestic abuse, breaking the cycle of re-offending behaviour, reducing waste and duplication of services, and growing Essex’s economy and skills base.

It is expected the plans – put forward by the Whole Essex Community Budgets pilot – could deliver �127m in cash savings to local and national public service partners and �287m in economic, fiscal and social benefits.

It is also said the proposals would accelerate the delivery of 60,000 new jobs, 25,500 new homes and �1billion investment in Essex’s infrastructure.

Councillor Pam Challis, chair of the Essex Leaders & Chief Executives Group and leader of Castle Point Borough Council, said central Government has set Essex the challenge of public services working together to redesign services for the better, reduce duplication and waste and save significant sums of public money.

“Our response to that challenge is a strong partnership working to deliver more effective and efficient services for taxpayers,” she said.

To reduce re-offending, the proposal is a multi-agency approach to address not only the criminal behaviour, but the underlying needs both of the individual and their family as a whole.

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Currently, 40 per cent to 50 per cent of all crime in Essex is committed by offenders already within the criminal justice system and 63 per cent of boys with a convicted father go on to be convicted of crimes themselves. The reoffending rate for prison is 40 per cent and for probation it is 32 per cent.

To reduce domestic abuse a multi-agency service hub has been proposed where victims can be identified at an earlier stage, and where those victims can receive the support they need.

Essex Police attend about 29,000 incidents a year and 19% of murders in Essex have domestic abuse incidents preceding them.

Essex County Council leader Peter Martin said: “We all want a world-class workforce with transport and communications that help businesses grow. We want stronger, healthier and safer communities and we need to tackle serious social problems like domestic abuse and re-offending. We can only do all that by working together in telling central Government we need the freedoms, flexibilities and funding to put our proposals into practice.”

Andrew Pike, chief executive of NHS North and South Essex, said demographic changes meant demand for health services would increase.

“Coming together now to integrate service from commissioning to delivery around health, public health and social care is the only way we can meet these challenges head-on.”

Ministers are expected to take decisions on the community budget plans by the end of November.