I very much welcome the fact that the Government has allocated £.142m in funding to Devon County Council, in order to provide support for victims of domestic abuse and their children.
The money will fund a new duty on councils to ensure victims and their children who need it are able to access life-saving support such as therapy, advocacy and counselling in safe accommodation, including refuges. The duty will come into effect later this year, subject to the Domestic Abuse Bill becoming law.
This is part of a wider package of support for victims of rape and domestic abuse, with a £40 million funding boost for victim support services announced last week.
This week also saw the publication of the NHS White Paper which aims to improve integration and innovation within the NHS, in order to create a more joined-up service and better patient outcomes.
The most important proposal in the White Paper to support integration will be to ensure every part of England is covered by a statutory Integrated Care System (ICS).
This will build on the work the system has been doing since the publication of the NHS Long Term Plan and is in line with NHS England’s recommendations in their recent consultation response, Integrated Care Systems: five recommendations to Government and Parliament. The Government have been clear on the importance of bringing together NHS organisations, local government and wider partners at a system level, to deliver more joined-up approaches to improving health and care outcomes, coterminous with local authorities.
Whilst I welcome the intention behind the paper and support the need to create a more joined-up system with better patient outcomes, my team and I are closely scrutinising the White Paper and the forthcoming legislation to ensure that it delivers in the best possible way for patients and the system across Devon and certainly won’t be afraid to suggest amendments if necessary. This includes looking into how the plans further the Government’s work towards parity of esteem between mental and physical health.
On Tuesday, I had a virtual call with the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and Cefas to discuss the ongoing situation with the dumping of silt from Exmouth Marina at the Lyme Bay dump site. I have made my strong opposition known to the MMO regarding any further dumping and have worked proactively with all major stakeholders to ensure that our collective voices are heard to prevent our beaches being polluted in this way again. I am optimistic of a positive outcome and will continue to keep the pressure on the MMO to ensure our beautiful award-winning beaches are protected so they can be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.
The fundamental problem at the heart of the issue is the completely inappropriate and toothless regulatory framework underpinning both the MMO and the activities for which it provides licences. Without changes to the regulations themselves, the issues that have been endured at Sprey Point and Lyme Bay will simply continue to happen across the United Kingdom. I have made it clear to the Defra Secretary that this needs to change.
The government confirmed on 5 February 2021 that the range of polls scheduled for 6 May 2021, including council and mayoral elections in England, and the Police and Crime Commissioner elections in England and Wales, will go ahead as planned. Many of these elections have already been delayed by a year. Here in Devon, this means Devon County Council are holding elections. The government has published a Delivery Plan setting out how the polls will be delivered in a Covid secure and effective way and have also provided an extra £31m to local authorities to enable them to conduct the elections safely.
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