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Knowle planning application: focus on (lack of) care provision

  • by JW

“The proposed development will exacerbate, rather than relieve the desperate lack of care provision in Sidmouth.”

“A report published in March described the adult social care sector as on the precipice” [Guardian]


Several concerns have already been expressed about the latest planning application at Knowle – whether it’s the lack of real public discussion of the issues: Knowle planning application: points raised part one – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Or whether it’s ‘overdevelopment’: Knowle planning application: points raised part two – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Another issue raised has been that of care provision – or, rather, the lack of it.

This has been covered at length in the comments already sent in to the council’s planning portal: 23/0571/MFUL | Redevelopment of site …

One commentator has noted the theme from those currently supporting the planning application:

A range of handwritten letters solicited from fairly desperate people in nearby towns confirms what the voluntary and statutory agencies are only too aware of: that there is an increasingly urgent widespread need for care home provision and sheltered accommodation.

The comment continues, with an analysis of how this need cannot be met:

These brief letters may reassure McCarthy Stone that there will be no shortage of demand for their scheme whenever they can get their retirement village for about 100 households put up on the site. Unfortunately many other carefully argued comments address and analyse in graphic detail the underlying contradiction, namely that the proposed development will exacerbate, rather than relieve the desperate lack of care provision in Sidmouth. 

Meeting the growing needs of our aging population requires : 

  • affordable accommodation for key care workers,
  • adequate local health services, 
  • appropriate transport provision, 
  • sufficient sewerage, 
  • public open space, and 
  • ambitious plans to plant and grow trees rather than remove them. 

Instead of carers, clean air, usable roads and clean water, the proposed building works (on what was until recently a public park) offers Sidmouth a massive insensitive development which explicitly seeks to attract yet more desperately needy elderly residents to this area, while contributing nothing to Sidmouth’s crumbling infrastructure.

This analysis is further supported by the latest announcement on the (lack of) care provision nationally – as reported this week by the Rural Services Network:

Breaking news: government halves social care workforce funding

The Government has announced that funding to develop the social care workforce is now at £250 Million. This is half the amount published in Dec 2021 in the Government’s White Paper on Social Care. The Department of Health and Social Care said that plans for a ‘new care workforce pathway’ as well as ‘hundreds of thousands of training places’ will be backed by £250 Million in funding.

The BBC reports on this story and says, ‘A coalition of charities said this cut is “just the latest in a long series of disappointments” over social care. The government said its reforms would give care “the status it deserves” but some organisations in the sector say they fall short of what is needed.’ You can read the BBC Report at this link

The Guardian leads with the headline: “Halving social care workforce funding in England an ‘insult’, ministers told.

“A report published in March by trade organisation Care England and learning disability charity HFT described the adult social care sector as “on the precipice” because of financial pressures on providers. Of the providers surveyed, 42% said they had had to close down part of their organisation or hand contracts back to local authorities to cut costs, while 35% said they were offering care to fewer people. The report also said that “low levels of pay for care staff is considered to be the biggest barrier to recruitment and retention”. You can read the Guardian story at this link.

All of these indications are extremely worrying for rural communities where there are particular challenges relating to the delivery of social care.

A report by the Nuffield Trust stated that “it had long been recognised” that rural and remote services faced particular challenges for a range of reasons, including:

  • workforce challenges, including recruitment and retention difficulties and higher overall staff costs
  • larger distances leading to higher travel costs and unproductive time spent by staff having to travel
  • challenges related to size, such as difficulties in realising economies of scale
  • access to certain resources being more expensive or difficult, such as telecommunications, training and consultancy

The Rural Services Network will be exploring this news story in more detail to consider in next week’s Rural Bulletin.

Breaking News: Government halves social care workforce funding – Rural Services Network