Warwickshire County Council’s ten-point Covid-19 Recovery Plan was approved at today’s meeting of Cabinet as the council moves towards the next stages of its recovery from the economic impact.
The Recovery Plan reflects the immediate action taken by the County Council to address some of the more urgent impacts of the crisis. These have included grants being made available to businesses to help them continue operating, food packages being made available to the most vulnerable residents as well as the new way of working of many county council staff as new technologies offer greater scope in where and how staff serve the people of Warwickshire.
It also captures some of the adaptations that the council has made in how it operates which have worked well during the pandemic response – stronger partnership working across the public sector and increased community participation and volunteering are foremost among them. As well as responding to Covid-19 immediately and in the short-term, it is the blueprint for how the Council will work in the future.
Previously, following the initial stage of response to the crisis, three reports were approved by Cabinet in June, covering the overview of recovery approach, place shaping and economic recovery. The updated Recovery Plan moves this forward, identifies priority areas and lays out a course of action across the following four workstreams:
· health and wellbeing, adult social care, children’s social care
· economy, place and climate change
· education and community recovery
· organisation and (county council) resources.
These have been driven forward by cross-party member working groups and regular engagement with partners including district and borough councils, the LEP, NHS, the Voluntary and Community Sector and Police.
Ten priorities, all of which align to the objectives of the current Council Plan, have been identified. These are:
· Contain the virus and promote physical and mental health and wellbeing;
· Maintain resilient sustainable services;
· Help children and young people catch up on their education;
· Harness power of communities to tackle inequality and social exclusion;
· Support businesses and grow the economy;
· Stimulate job creation and skills;
· Invest in regeneration and a sustainable future;
· Tackle climate change;
· Develop our people and future ways of working; and
· Deliver high performance by harnessing digital, data and making the most effective use of resources.
The Recovery Plan is flexible and takes into account the rapidly changing environment and the need to respond to the course that the virus takes. Its impact will be monitored using a new framework, with adaptations being made on an ongoing basis, responding to what the data shows.
Measures to demonstrate success will include the consistent reduction of cases of Covid-19 and associated deaths, a stable care market which copes with demand, children completing a full academic year without any impact on their results, greater numbers of residents supported to improve their mental and physical wellbeing with increased partnership with community groups addressing local priorities.
Measures being considered to demonstrate economic recovery include more people at risk of unemployment being helped to find work, increased numbers of businesses being supported to safeguard jobs and adapt with increased involvement in training, and an accelerated delivery of capital works and infrastructure projects to drive growth in housing, business and town centres.
The commitment to tackling climate change will be measured by a reduction in CO2 emissions, increased biodiversity and tree planting, and greater investment in sustainable travel. Among measures to address inequalities will be the promotion of the County Council’s Welfare Scheme and financial inclusion work while a Warwickshire Food Forum to co-ordinate activity to tackle food poverty across Warwickshire and ensure access to food for the most vulnerable will be established.
£24m investment funds, set up in the Medium Term Financial Strategy, have been allocated to support the short-term recovery priorities. A revised Council Plan will take into account the actions coming out of the Recovery Plan and its financial implications and will be presented to Council in February.
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Leader of Warwickshire County Council, said: “While this is a Recovery Plan and takes forward our aims as we move forwards, we are still in response mode to the global pandemic and that has to be the main focus of our immediate action.
“But while we will continue to be vigilant in our ongoing response, the County Council and our partners are looking to the future – post Covid-19 – and take some of the learning and the positives from recent months as we address the new risks and threats that we face. Similarly, the plan scrutinises where things have not worked as well and what needs to be done to fix that.
“It’s important that we stress the positives because, in many ways, the recent months have shown the best of Warwickshire. Communities have pulled together and the numbers of people volunteering has risen tremendously. We have also worked closely with our partners across the region and these strong relationships will be maintained and built upon. These are excellent foundations for recovery.
“The way we live and work will never be quite the same again. But we will use this recovery plan as a springboard to ensure we continue to make Warwickshire the best it can be.”