Leader's Blog - Friday 21 February 2014
Leader of Sunderland City Council, Councillor Paul Watson
Councillor Paul Watson became Leader of the Council in May 2008, after previously serving as Deputy Leader since May 2006.
Now, through his blog, he aims to communicate directly with you to give an insight into what is happening in Sunderland as well as the issues and challenges that face the city. With so much going on in the city, he wants to keep you informed about how much work the council is doing but also wants to hear from you.
This is your chance to have your say so please feel free to get in touch.
Welcome to my blog.
At the end of 2013, we held the annual State of the City event where I talked about the significant financial challenges that the City Council, and of course the whole of the public sector, continues to face.
Following the review of the city's library service, I said that residents would see further changes to council services during the course of this year. These are by no means simply about making the necessary savings and efficiencies, but are focused on fulfilling our commitment to improve and transform services to better serve our customers.
I said that services might be delivered in different ways, by different people and organisations and through different channels, but by working hard to understand the needs and requirements of local people in redesigning our own services - and influencing our partners as they do the same - people would hopefully feel that any changes have been for the better.
This is certainly my hope as we launch Sunderland Care and Support - a new local authority trading company which was formerly the council's adult social care service. By doing this we aim to ensure that people across the city (particularly some of the more vulnerable members of our community who need our help and support the most) continue to receive the best possible adult social care.
Changes in Government legislation around personal budgets - meaning people can shop around for services from different providers - and the fact that councils are not allowed to operate in the same way as private sector businesses, pointed to the need to set up a company which shares the council's ethos and values of providing excellent public service, but is free to trade and compete in the market place.
By taking this approach we can ensure that our customers - both now and in the future - have the choice to continue to receive the best adult social care services possible which, most importantly, are capable of being tailored to their individual needs. The company will be able to generate income from sources that the council cannot and as a consequence, be able to expand and create the level of flexibility and personalisation in its offer for the benefit of all service users.
I'm really looking forward to seeing how Sunderland Care and Support's journey unfolds and to hearing the feedback from customers in due course. The most important thing is that people in Sunderland continue to receive high quality support and, in the not too distant future, feel that the care they receive is even better.
With the team in charge, I am confident that this will be the case and wish everyone involved the very best of luck.
Cllr Paul Watson