Our reaction to yesterday’s Autumn Statement
Whether you listened to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement live yesterday, or have caught up with it since, most of us now will have heard at least some of the detail behind the Government’s plans to see us through the nation’s current financial turmoil.
The devil is always in the detail, and since yesterday councils everywhere have been pouring over it to understand its full impact on their own financial difficulties. In Devon, we’re facing a black hole in our finances of £75 million caused by soaring inflation, surging demand for our vital services for vulnerable children and adults and rapidly rising costs.
“I had hoped the Chancellor would spare local government the cuts he is having to make to get the nation’s finances back on an even keel,” said our Leader, Councillor John Hart.
“However, I welcome his comments concerning his decision to postpone the introduction of the social care reforms and to allocate those savings to local authorities.
“And I welcome any decision that will allow local authorities flexibility with regards to potential council tax rises. I recognise though that people across Devon are facing real issues with the cost of living and I will not want to increase their burden any more than necessary.
“This will however be an option to consider in our budget preparation when we will be faced with increasing council tax by more than we would like or potentially making deep cuts in services that are valued by people across the county. Unfortunately, we may well have to do both next year. It will be a very difficult balancing act.”
Have you seen the John Lewis Christmas advert yet?
We love this year’s John Lewis Christmas advert, shining a light on the importance of foster carers!
We can’t guarantee that all of our wonderful foster carers are great skateboarders, but we can promise that they do their utmost to provide loving homes for children in care.
Every child deserves a loving home. You can help change a young person’s life by becoming a foster carer, and develop a range of skills along the way, from skateboarding to gardening and baking!
What will you learn? Take your first step, visit the Fostering in Devon website.
Money off your electricity bill this winter
You could get £150 off your electricity bill with the Government’s Warm Home Discount Scheme.
The money is not paid to you – it’s a one-off discount on your electricity bill, between October 2022 and March 2023.
You may be able to get the discount on your gas bill instead if your supplier provides you with both gas and electricity, if you’re elgible.
There are different ways to qualify for the Warm Home Discount Scheme, depending on where you live.
Encouraging men to ask for help if they need it
Most of us have important men in our lives – fathers, husbands, brothers, uncles, friends. Their health and wellness matters to us so this International Men’s Day we’re encouraging them to be more aware of potential health issues and to ask for help if they need it.
The average life expectancy for men in Devon is around 80 years old, but one in five men die before they reach the age of 65.
According to the charity Men’s Health Forum:
- 75 per cent of premature deaths from coronary heart disease are male
- Middle-aged men are twice as likely to have diabetes as women – and twice as likely not to know they have diabetes
- 67 per cent of suicides are men – suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under 35 years old
- Men are three times more likely than women to become alcohol dependent and twice as likely to have liver disease
We are here to support you on your journey to a healthier, happier you.
Visit One Small Step, our free service to support the health and wellbeing of Devon residents, for information on everything from stopping smoking, drinking less and taking up more physical activity.
If you think there might be a problem with your health, get in touch with a professional for help and advice as soon as possible.
Reopening the Tavistock to Plymouth railway line
We’ve submitted an outline business case to the Government this week for the reopening of the Tavistock to Plymouth rail line, setting out why reopening the line is needed.
Among the plans, the scheme would reinstate about five miles of track, with a new single platform station at Tavistock, which would serve around 21,000 residents of Tavistock, Horrabridge, Lamerton, and Mary Tavy. Annual passenger demand at the station is forecast to be 394,000 passengers a year, which is comparable to Barnstaple station.
An hourly Tavistock-Plymouth service would stop at Bere Alston, Bere Ferrers and west Plymouth stations, while maintaining the existing two-hourly service between Plymouth and Gunnislake.
Free event for unpaid carers
There’s a free information and advice fair specifically for unpaid carers taking place on Thursday 24 November from 10am until 4pm at the Exeter Corn Exchange on Market Street.
Advisors from Devon Carers, who provide carer support on our behalf, will be there, along with other organisations offering information about services which are beneficial to people in their caring role.
If you have any questions or are looking for information or advice about caring, your rights as a carer, or how you can be supported, please pop along for a chat and refreshments.
There will also be a pop-up vaccination hub from 11am to 2pm for any carers who need their COVID-19 vaccination booster. There is no need to book but please note there will only be limited vaccine supplies.
Free support to help businesses with rising costs
As the costs of operating a business continue to rise, local business owners across the region are being urged to find out how they can benefit from free support to boost their resilience.
The combination of rising costs of commodities, energy and fuel, recruitment difficulties and rising inflation is making life difficult for many businesses. Our Heart of the South West Growth Hub, which provides a range of support for local businesses, is hearing first-hand the challenges that many businesses are facing, and are helping them through these difficult times.
Next week, they’ve arranged a Business Resilience event, in Yeovil, with South Somerset District Council. It’s free, and it aims to bring together businesses to provide practical support and guidance in response to the current rising costs. Businesses will hear about the grant funding available to them, and be guided on how to apply successfully. And there’ll be a panel of expert speakers from Innovate UK.
Ashburton Road due to reopen on Monday
C-category roads may be minor to their A and B counterparts, but vital all the same to those who rely on them. So true when the C229, Ashburton Road, Bovey Tracey, had to close in February 2020 due to a large landslip, affecting local residents’ journeys to the town centre.
Now, a newly aligned stretch of the road is reopening, much to local residents’ delight.
It wasn’t a straight-forward repair job. The area has a history of mining, and that raised significant safety concerns about the stability of the ground beneath the road, with the very real possibility that there could be former mining tunnels and features beneath the surface.
Victims of an international scam are being compensated for their loss
Our trading standards service will be returning thousands of pounds to residents from across the region who were defrauded in an international lottery scam.
It’s thanks to The National Trading Standards Team, who worked with the United States Federal Trade Commission, to identify US-based fraudsters who targeted UK households with scam mail offering alleged cash wins and claiming ‘guaranteed’ cash prizes.
Victims were enticed to pay an upfront fee ranging from £25 to £40, with some paying the fee several times before realising that there was no prize. But a Federal Judge has ordered that $25 million of forfeited cash and assets be made as compensation to the scam’s victims around the world.