Powys faces challenges as data reveals high percentage of older population, impacting social services, economy, and education system.
DATA that shows Powys has a much higher percentage of older people living in the county is key to understanding the challenges faced by Social Services – a councillor has said.
At a meeting of Powys County Council’s Cabinet on Tuesday July 11, councillors were presented with the director of Social Services annual report for 2022/2023.
The report is a legal requirement which sets out the achievements and challenges faced by adult and children’s social services during the past year.
Office of National Statistics data from the 2021 which was contained in the report, shows that Powys has a much older population than the rest of Wales and the UK.
In Powys – 28 per cent of the population are aged 65 and over, this compares with 21 per cent throughout the rest of Wales and 19 per cent for the UK.
Powys has 57 per cent of people in the 16 to 64 years old age range, which compares to 61 per cent in the rest of Wales and 62 per cent across the UK.
Council leader Liberal Democrat Cllr James Gibson-Watt stressed that these figures show a “demographic challenge” that Powys faces.
Cllr Gibson-Watt said: “If the county was small and compact it would be difficult enough to deliver these services.
“Given that demography is grafted onto a county of this size and extremely sparse population plus the difficulty of recruiting staff you can see the scale of the challenge.
“I suspect a lot of members and the general population do not realise just how much older on average the population is and how much less the percentage of working age is.”
“This has immense implications not just for the delivery of social care but for the economy and education system and just about every aspect of our lives and communities.”
He believed this information it’s “terribly important,” to understand.
Interim director of social services and housing, Nina Davies gave the councillors a presentation on the “headline” information coming from the 49 page document.
Mrs Davies said: “The key challenges is budget – this is not unique to social services but across the council and local authorities.”
Mrs Davies explained that Adult Services and Commissioning and Partnerships had ended the year in an underspend position, but Children’s Services ended up £2 million over budget which could have been worse if staff had been unable to bring the deficit down during the year.
Mrs Davies explained that the council is still seeing “high levels of demand” but also cases of “increased complexity” as well as more challenges in court.
Staff recruitment and retention are issues for the services.
Mrs Davies said: “It has been challenging having to use high levels of agency staff due to the problems of recruitment and retention.”
“Grow our own social workers continues to be a really important improvement area and we’re seeing success with people moving through training and into permanent roles which is wonderful to see.”
Mrs Davies added that a key aims for this year will be to reduce the waiting lists for assessment and reviews.
This report is also the first one written following a shake-up of Social Services in Powys last year which has seen Adult and Children’s Services split between two council directorates.
Adult Services and Commissioning and Partnerships sit within the Housing directorate while Children’s Services are now under the wing of the Education directorate.
The draft report was noted and will go to a meeting of the full council on July 20 to be ratified.
By BBC LDRS
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