Regional Focus: The South West

The recent revelations of the abuse of adults with learning difficulties carried out at group homes and institutions in Cornwall are a blight on the region’s social care record but must not be allowed to detract from the innovative work being carried out in the South West in many other fields.

Home to five million people the region is on the up: the population is rising, prosperity increasing and the weather’s decent by UK standards, but prone, perhaps increasingly so in the age of global warming, to torrential rainfall and high winds which can threaten lives.

The region’s geography has meant collaboration between councils and other agencies is commonplace. Testament to this is the development over five years of the single assessment process for the region.

Amid the prosperity, there are pockets of severe deprivation both in urban and rural areas. As much of the region is rural, travel is a problem with public transport limited and the road network under severe pressure.

There is a high proportion of older people in the South West partly because many people move there after retirement. This, and the growth in second homes, has seen property prices rise sharply in recent years making it harder for local people to climb the housing ladder.

Of course, these factors have had an impact on social services departments. Recruitment of experienced staff has been a problem while reluctance by people in some areas to move away from more traditional forms of service delivery has slowed down change. But one resource the South West will always have to attract skills is its superb environment and sense of community.

Star quality

Teenage pregnancies – How South West councils are responding

Collaboration project: Single assessment process

Kent managers help Swindon Social Services

Disaster recovery

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