Annual Report 2022/23
This report provides a summary of our achievements in 2022/23 as well as recent successes.
There are sections for each of our four priority outcomes:
- Driving sustainable economic growth
- Keeping vulnerable people safe
- Helping people help themselves
- Making best use of resources now and for the future
These cross-cutting priority outcomes guide the decisions we make when setting our delivery plans for services, the Revenue Budget, and Capital Programme.
The Council’s work is delivered by working in partnership and we would like to thank our many partners for their very significant contribution to the progress we have made and their continued commitment to meeting the challenges we all share, especially over the last year. The increase in the rate of inflation and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis have affected our residents, our partners, local businesses and our supply chain.
This report provides examples of the work done by the Council to help people during this challenging period.
We hope you find this report useful and interesting.
2022-23 A year in numbers
- 66% of our procurement spend was with local suppliers
- 147 highway improvement schemes were completed, and over 30,000 potholes were repaired
- We provided school transport for over 6,000 children
- 379 businesses and professionals received training and bespoke advice from Trading Standards
- 5,714 children were supported to maintain their reading skills by taking part in the Summer Reading Challenge in our libraries
- 4,354 children took part in our Bikeability' programme
- 664 children were Looked After
- 691 children had Child Protection Plans
- 650 new Education, Health and Care Plans were issued
- There were 530 interventions by Trading Standards to protect people targeted by rogue trading or financial abuse
- 1,460 people quit smoking with support from our stop smoking service
- Over 12,000 people ordered a HIV and STI home testing kit from our local sexual health service
- 595 families eligible for the Government’s Supporting Families programme received a family support intervention
- £4.5m of procurement savings were achieved
- There was a 32% reduction in CO2 emissions from Council operations compared to the baseline year of 2019/20
- We completed 21 energy efficiency projects in our buildings and schools, including installing solar panels, LED lighting and replacing old boilers with new more fuel efficient systems.
- 115 members of staff enrolled on to an apprenticeship
- 54.3% of household waste was re-used, recycled, or composted or used beneficially
Driving sustainable economic growth
Supporting the local economy
Local people and the local economy are still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and have also been impacted by high rates of inflation and associated cost of living challenges. We will continue to address these challenges, support recovery and help to tackle the long-term consequences for local people.
Over the last year we continued work to achieve the aims of East Sussex Economy Recovery Plan: East Sussex Reset. These aims include building prosperity for businesses and the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sectors. The plan also aims to support residents to access new opportunities that drive economic recovery and resilience. The plan also supports activities on issues such as climate change and wellbeing. Around £220m is being invested into East Sussex because of the plan. We are developing a new Economic Strategy, building on the success of East Sussex Reset.
We will continue work to support, recover and grow a sustainable economy in the county. This will help our communities to be more resilient and our businesses to be more competitive. Greater prosperity will benefit all residents of the county. East Sussex is a great place to live, work and visit, and is an excellent location for businesses. We focus our efforts on businesses with the most potential to drive sustainable economic growth and build on the county’s current economic strengths, to increase employment and productivity. We will protect and support our leisure and cultural assets and will continue to work on a number of important infrastructure projects in the coming years.
We spent £299m with 898 local suppliers in 2022/23, 66% of our total procurement spend, exceeding our target of 60%. We continued throughout the year to work with suppliers to maximise the social value delivered by our contracts. Our target for the year was to secure commitments for economic, social and environmental benefits that were of equivalent value of at least 10% of our spend with suppliers. At the end of 2022/23 we had managed to secure commitments that were equal to 57% of our spend with suppliers. Several contracts with significant social value commitments were secured this year, including contracts for Highways and Infrastructure Services and Extra Care Housing schemes. The supplier for the Highways and Infrastructure contract has committed to a social value offer of around £180m. This includes a commitment to deliver 60% of the contract value through local supply chains, in addition to delivering apprenticeships, a wide range of support to help employability support, and creating local jobs. The successful supplier for our Extra Care Housing schemes has committed to a social value offer of around £2.2m. The majority of their social value commitment is around training local people to NVQ level 2/3 and providing job opportunities to the long term unemployed, those currently working less than 16 hours per week and 18-24 year olds not in employment, education or training.
The Council has developed an East Sussex business support programme, funded by district and borough partners using their UK Shared Prosperity Fund allocations. The programme provides support to both new and established businesses. It will give local Small and Medium Enterprises access to high quality, professional advice and support to help them adapt and thrive through the current economic challenges and will help retain or create good quality local jobs in the county. We have continued to deliver the Business East Sussex Growth Hub – the one-stop for businesses seeking information on all aspects of running a business.
The Council’s Trading Standards service has continued to offer assistance to businesses in East Sussex to ensure they continue to adapt to and thrive in the changed regulatory regimes brought about by the UK’s departure from the European Union in December 2020. We are also working with Border Force to provide market surveillance activities at Newhaven Port.
Our Business Support programme helped businesses to create or safeguard 195 jobs during 2022/23. The inward investment contract, Locate East Sussex, helped 51 businesses to remain within, or relocate to, East Sussex during the year. Locate East Sussex has been extended for a further year and is continuing to provide support to businesses with a focus on inward investing businesses in 2023/24. All business support programmes have reduced budgets, principally due to the ending of European Union match funding.
The Council’s Wellbeing at Work Programme works with employers to share resources, deliver training, and provides an accreditation scheme which supplies a framework to businesses to help boost the health and wellbeing of employees. In February 2023, 25 businesses across East Sussex were presented with Wellbeing at Work awards, at the first annual Wellbeing at Work Conference and Awards event. The event recognises workplaces that are committed to developing healthier and happier workforces.
The Council, working with our partners Eastbourne Borough Council, Towner, Eastbourne and Culture East Sussex, supported the successful bid for the Turner Prize to be hosted by the Towner Gallery, Eastbourne, from September 2023. It is expected that around 300,000 additional people will visit Eastbourne during the six months of the exhibition. It is estimated that the international exposure has already generated £280m worth of publicity for the town, with visitor numbers already doubling at peak times and hospitality businesses reporting an increase in custom. As part of the hosting, the Council funded a successful bid for a £500,000 grant from Arts Council England to enable several Eastbourne based arts organisations, Sussex Modern and Public Health, to deliver a programme of local events for young people which will take place while the shortlisted works are exhibited.
In collaboration with Kent, Essex, West Sussex and Brighton & Hove councils we jointly secured £1.75m from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s Create Growth Programme, Create South East – one of only seven opportunities nationally to secure this investment in supporting creative businesses with high growth potential.
Skills East Sussex is the county’s strategic body for employment and skills. Its sector task groups continued their work to support businesses, education providers and other stakeholders to collaborate on developing a curriculum that meets future skills needs, upskill tutors and develop careers provision for young people and adults. The Skills East Sussex Board commissioned research on future skills in East Sussex from the Institute for Employment Studies and presented initial findings to over 200 partners and stakeholders at a Skills Summit in May 2023.
The Careers Hub continues to work with all secondary, special schools and colleges in the county, linking them with over 200 employers to inspire and support young people to learn about the world of work, raise aspirations and understand the significant changes and opportunities occurring within the labour market. Support provided included careers talks, work experience and workplace visits. Employers recruited include the East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, the British Army, the Southeast Communities Rail Partnership and National Highways.
The Careers Hub also developed resources to link careers to the curriculum and delivered training to careers leaders in schools/colleges, as well as employers in 2022/23. Nearly 5,000 young people had the opportunity to gain an experience of the workplace through engaging with employers at their places of work. Over 4,000 have taken up a work experience placement and 800 learners have undertaken an Open Doors workplace visit, with employers including Albion in the Community, Glyndebourne Opera House and the RSPCA.
In March 2022 the Government announced that as part of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund the new £2.3m ‘Multiply’ programme would seek to improve adults’ numeracy skills over the next three years. In support of the Levelling Up agenda, the programme aims to help people improve their ability to understand and use maths in their daily lives and in work, and achieve a mix of formal and non-formal qualifications. The delivery of the project started in 2022/23, with the Multiply Team overseeing numeracy training to over 900 adults in the county who lack a Level 2 qualification. Funding is committed to deliver training to a total of 2,700 people by March 2025.
The Transform programme, part funded by the European Social Fund, and delivered in partnership with Sussex Council of Training Providers, aims to address current and future skills gaps by increasing the take-up and knowledge of apprenticeships, traineeships and skills training amongst small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) across the county. Transform worked with nearly 150 SMEs in the county during 2022/23 to help them access information and support for apprenticeship training. Support includes access to the Council’s Apprenticeship Levy Transfer funding programme up to £250,000 per year, and help to claim additional government incentives for SMEs. The programme has also delivered Apprenticeship Roadshows in Hastings and Eastbourne, this year drawing over 800 young people and job seekers.
The Council funds the ESTAR project, which aims to improve employability opportunities for marginalised people including those in supported and temporary accommodation, at risk of homelessness, refugees and travelling communities. Programmes were delivered in 2022/23 to help over 200 people living in Supported and Temporary Accommodation and 600 Ukrainian guests and other refugees towards employment. One Programme, Moving on Up, assists people financially to help them with rent/ mortgage arrears; or to pay a deposit and first month’s rent, once they take up work with training or an apprentice.
The Council, working with partners, was successful in securing significant amounts of growth funding totalling £129m via both the South East and Coast 2 Capital Local Enterprise Partnerships. This funding covers all years of the Partnerships from 2012 and is to deliver a wide range of infrastructure projects in the county. We have continued to work with partners on complementary economic development programmes supporting businesses to grow, providing skills and creating employment with funds secured from various Government departments including the Levelling Up Fund, UK Shared Prosperity Fund, UK Community Renewal Fund, Getting Building Fund, Bus Service Improvement Plan, Local Skills Improvement Plan, Active Travel, Stronger Towns Fund and Future High Street Fund.
In June 2023 the culmination of significant work undertaken throughout the year by the Council-led Sussex Visitor Economy Initiative and the business-led marketing body Sussex Modern saw the launch of Sussex Wine Tourism: A Plan for Growth. The launch event, at the Houses of Parliament, was attended by Sussex MP’s, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the CEO for Visit Britain / Visit England. The plan is a blueprint for delivering ambitious growth in the Sussex wine sector. It details how the sector could grow from currently bringing £25m of value to the economy, to nearly £300m by 2040, while also creating over 3,600 jobs. The report, associated appendices and delivery guides are available at www.sussexmodern.org.uk/sussexwinetourism.
We started work to update our Local Transport Plan, completing an initial consultation in 2022/23. A draft Plan is being developed for further consultation during 2023/24. The updated Plan will consider how transport can help support the delivery of our commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, support sustainable economic recovery and growth in the county, and improve the county’s economic connectivity. Alongside the Local Transport Plan, we’re drafting an Electric Vehicle Strategy, which will support the increased take-up of electric vehicles in East Sussex. £4.4m has been allocated to the Council from the Government’s Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure fund, to support the delivery of electric vehicle infrastructure in the county.
Extreme weather events over recent years have caused significant damage to many of the county’s roads. In 2022/23 the wettest November on record, followed by one of the coldest starts to December followed by further heavy rain, led to a significant increase in the number of potholes on our roads. These conditions also led to a wider deterioration in road surfaces across the county.
Condition and funding modelling showed the potential for renewed deterioration over the next 10 years if further investment was not introduced into road maintenance. This reflects the changing climate with more extreme events such as warmer wetter winters, drier summers which dry and shrink the substructure of roads, plus unseasonal heavy downpours, which all affect the rate of road deterioration. To help reduce these factors over the next 10 years the Council increased the road maintenance budget by an additional £3.1m per year. In addition, a one-off investment of £5.8million to be spent on highway maintenance in 2022/23 was also agreed.
We completed 147 resurfacing projects during 2022/23, improving the condition of over 60 miles of roads. The number of pothole repair gangs was increased and working hours extended in response to increased reports of potholes. During the year, 30,000 potholes were repaired. This is a significant increase on the 24,000 potholes repaired in 2021/22.
A new highways contract was awarded to Balfour Beatty Living Places in October 2022. The new contract is worth £297m and started in May 2023. Balfour Beatty Living Places will be responsible for maintaining the county’s highways network and infrastructure, including roads, pavements, drainage, streetlights, traffic lights and bridges. As part of the procurement process Balfour Beatty Living Places demonstrated how they would help reduce the Council’s carbon footprint, provide value for money, and improve social wellbeing in East Sussex.
In partnership with local bus companies, we have developed a Bus Service Improvement Plan. The Bus Service Improvement Plan sets out proposals for improving the bus services in the county. In September 2022 the Government confirmed we will receive more than £41m for bus service improvements in East Sussex. This was the third highest allocation for shire/rural authorities, and the highest per capita amongst these authorities. The funding will help the Council and bus operators improve services and increase the use of public transport, which will reduce congestion and make a positive contribution to better air quality and decarbonisation. It will be used to increase the frequency of buses and provide more services in the evenings and weekends. The funding will also go towards improvements to bus stops and information.
The Council enabled several new lower fares to be introduced in Summer 2022 as part of the Bus Service Improvement Plan to encourage bus use and assist operators in maintaining a high-quality bus network in the county. Funding has now been received from the Department for Transport which will allow enhanced bus services and additional services, which have started running in 2023/24. The Council also maintained some services following the decision by the main bus operator in the county to reduce their services. The Council invested £500,000 to ensure that nearly all communities continued to be served by a bus route, meaning people could continue to access essential services, employment and education.
The Council worked quickly in 2022/23 to deliver temporary bus stops at the bottom of School Hill in Lewes, following the decision by the owners of Lewes Bus Station to stop buses using the bus station. These works included widening the footways and installing bus shelters.
We have been working with key stakeholders including the South Downs National Park – as the planning authority – on a project to replace Exceat Bridge over the Cuckmere River. The planning application was approved, subject to a number of conditions, by the National Park in December 2022. Funding of £8m for the new bridge has been secured through the Government’s Levelling Up Fund. Detailed designs, ecological surveys, purchasing of the necessary land and environmental works can now be completed and construction of the new bridge is planned to start early in 2024.
In total during 2022/23, we completed 17 infrastructure schemes to improve road safety. Our wider work on road safety includes the national Bikeability scheme, which helps to prepare people for cycling safely on the road. We delivered 555 ‘Bikeability’ courses to 4,354 individuals at participating schools and the Cycle Centre at Eastbourne Sports Park in 2022/23. We also delivered 252 ‘Wheels for All’ sessions to 3,649 attendees at the Sports Park.
Supporting children to reach their potential
Together with local schools we continue to deliver our Excellence for All strategy for 2021-23, which sets out our ambitions for schools and pupils in East Sussex. Our three clear ambitions are delivered through the Primary and Secondary Boards and continue on the successes and improvements that schools, settings, and partners have achieved in the first year of the strategy.
The first ambition is to support every setting and partnership to strengthen leadership at all levels, enabling leaders who promote excellence for all children and young people. A new headteachers’ induction programme was launched in September 2022 alongside an Aspiring Headteachers programme which aims to ensure that we recruit and retain leaders to work in East Sussex schools. A ‘Maximising Potential’ project aimed at Special Educational Needs Coordinators and Senior Leaders in schools aims to improve outcomes for secondary school pupils with special education needs without an Education Health and Care Plan. The early years improvement team provided a range of support to leaders of our early years settings and held their first conference specifically aimed at childminders.
The second ambition is to improve literacy and oracy, across all phases. This has included a joint oracy project which led to the development of the ‘East Sussex Way’ guide. Written by teachers for teachers in East Sussex, the guide focuses on developing the speaking, reading and vocabulary of children at the point of primary-secondary transition. This project supports the delivery of our priority to improve literacy and oracy in East Sussex across all phases.
The third ambition is to take the innovations in approaches to learning and participation, developed during the pandemic, into our post lockdown work to support the inclusion and wellbeing of children and young people. The specific focus of this work has been on attendance, transition and inclusion. Working with schools, we have continued to develop and deliver support for children and young people to improve their attendance. This has included reorganising our teams to ensure that we are fulfilling our new attendance duties from September 2023. Our focus on transition has included projects designed to help children about to start school and those transitioning between primary and secondary phases. A Rethinking Exclusions project aims to strengthen inclusion and reduce exclusions of secondary school pupils. All 26 secondary schools are involved in this project and meet regularly through Inclusion Partnerships to discuss how pupils at risk of exclusion can be supported. We have launched an Alternative Provision Directory which lists a range of providers that schools can use to commission alternative provision.
The East Sussex Healthy Schools Programme is delivered by the East Sussex School Health Service on behalf of the Council. It provides a framework and support to help schools achieve ‘healthy schools status’. The content is strongly aligned with the latest Ofsted descriptors, providing a simple way to collate a range of evidence around Social Emotional and Mental Health, PSHE, Physical Activity and Healthy Eating. Ten schools have achieved the excellence award. Schools are also encouraged to undertake the ‘My health, My School’ pupil surveys each year which provides important information on a range of subjects relating to safeguarding, mental health, physical health and the school environment. During 2022/23, the survey reached over 10,000 pupils for the second year running and that information is now available online.
Protecting the environment
In partnership with the private, public and educational sector organisations that make up Environment East Sussex, we will work to implement the action plan for the East Sussex Environment Strategy and future environment legislation.
In January 2022 Team East Sussex endorsed the Climate Emergency Road Map for East Sussex, which covers 2022-25. The East Sussex Environment Strategy 2020 was developed by the East Sussex Environment Board, which is hosted by the Council. Actions in support of the road map include securing the funding to support our Bus Service Improvement Plan and securing funding from the Department for Transport’s Capability Fund to support people to use more sustainable forms of transport.
We are developing a Local Nature Recovery Strategy for East Sussex. This is being done alongside the Sussex Local Nature Partnership and other partners. The strategy will aim to ensure there is a net biodiversity gain in any new development proposals.
54.3% of household waste was re-used, recycled or composted or used beneficially in 2022/23. The Energy Recovery Facility in Newhaven has been running more efficiently and is producing reduced tonnage of bottom ash and recovered metals at the end of processing. These materials are included in the recycling rates. This process means that we perform significantly better than comparable authorities in reducing the proportion of household waste that is landfilled to 0.6%, and in energy recovery from waste at 56.7%.
Keeping vulnerable people safe
Keeping vulnerable children safe
During 2022/23 we continued to provide a safe and effective children’s social care service. We continued to see an increase in demand for early help and children’s social care services, both in terms of numbers and complexity of need. Vulnerable children and young people and their families have been particularly impacted by the pandemic and the cost of living crisis. There was a 37% increase in the number of referrals to the Single Point of Advice compared with 2020/21 and a 21% increase in the number of referrals to the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub.
We continued our work with partner agencies to enable children to live safely at home, working with families to help them provide safe and supportive environments. We provided intensive support and interventions to families of children on the edge of care, particularly adolescents.
The number of children cared for by the Council and the number of children subject to child protection plans increased in 2022/23. East Sussex continues to comply fully with requirements in relation to the national transfer scheme for unaccompanied asylum seeking children. 25% of our new entrants to care in 2022/23 were unaccompanied asylum seeking children. Whilst delays in the court system are improving, they continue to impact how quickly we are able to secure Special Guardianship Orders and adoptions. A key challenge for children’s services, both locally and nationally, is the amount of homes and foster carers for the children that we care for. We are focused on delivering both prevention and early intervention to address this challenge.
During 2022/23 we provided additional support to care experienced young people. In October 2021 we were successful in a bid through the South East Regional Recovery Fund to explore options to deliver the Lifelong Links programme for children in our care. Lifelong Links aims to ensure that children have a positive support network around them during their time in care and into adulthood. This may include relatives, friends, previous carers or professionals. The programme was implemented in 2022/23, working with children in the age group who are often starting to explore wider relationships, but who sometimes need help to make safe decisions and connections.
In March 2022 the Department for Education announced that the Council was one of 75 local authorities selected for a share of a £302m fund to establish Family Hubs and the Start for Life programme. We have been awarded £4.6m for this programme over three years. Our Family Hubs build on the current Children Centre and integrated Early Help offers and support families with babies, children and young people from birth to 19 (or 25 for young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)). The first two Hubs opened in the summer of 2022 in Hailsham and East Hastings. They provide a one stop shop approach, delivering a range of help, including for physical and mental health, housing, debt advice, youth services, domestic abuse support, as well as links to local voluntary and community sector organisations.
We were awarded an additional £100,000 as one of 15 authorities granted trailblazer status for Family Hubs. The trailblazer status focuses on parent/infant relationships and perinatal mental health.
The Council put in place home to school transport provision for over 6,000 children in 2022/23. We have managed an increase in the number of children with SEND requiring specialist transport, and reduced the number of high-cost solo routes being used. A proactive engagement programme with schools has improved transport reviews, which has also played an important part in containing cost increases.
Keeping vulnerable adults safe
Alongside our partners, we continued to work together with the NHS in 2022/23 in the context of the Sussex Integrated Care System (ICS). This was formally established on a statutory footing on 1st July 2022, through two new bodies which the Council participates in. The NHS Sussex Integrated Care Board (ICB) is responsible for commissioning healthcare services for the population of Sussex. The Sussex Health and Care Assembly, a formal joint committee established between The Council, West Sussex County Council, Brighton & Hove City Council and the NHS Sussex ICB, is responsible for setting the strategic direction for health and care across Sussex.
In line with this, the five year Sussex Integrated Care Strategy Improving Lives Together was developed and agreed by the Sussex Health and Care Assembly in December 2022. More information about this strategy is available here: Our strategy - Sussex Health and Care (ics.nhs.uk).
During the year we used our allocation of the Social Care Discharge Fund to best effect, helping patients be discharged from hospital and into onward care as fast as possible. The national funding was used to enhance a range of measures to support safe and effective discharge. This had a positive effect on reducing the numbers of people waiting for the right support to be in place for discharge, and reducing the length of time people waited in hospital.
We received 10.5% fewer adult safeguarding contacts in 2022/23 compared to 2021/22. We continued to work with partners through the East Sussex Safeguarding Adults Board to help deliver its priorities for the year. These included embedding the Mental Capacity Act in practice, safeguarding transitions for young people at risk and with multiple complex needs, whilst including the additional areas of self-neglect, homelessness and safeguarding the increasing migrant population.
During 2022/23 the Council’s Trading Standards service obtained Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) confiscation orders against convicted individuals totalling nearly £100,000. The POCA ensures that criminals do not profit from their crimes. A proportion of any payment received against those orders is retained by the authority to invest in future enforcement activity.
Trading Standards made 530 positive interventions to protect vulnerable people during 2022/23. The number of interventions was boosted in 2022/23 by working with new groups such as the Financial Inclusion team.
Trading Standards also worked with our community safety partners to raise awareness of a number of scams. During 2022/23, Get Safe Online and the Council promoted campaigns around online shopping and vehicle fraud. The online shopping campaign highlighted the frequency of scams which involve consumers being asked to pay in advance for goods or services that are never received, with criminals creating fake websites, social media profiles and documents that appear genuine. In recognition that the cost-of-living crisis might be a time when cybercriminals exploit those who are under financial pressure, we linked our Cost of Living Support page to a specific landing page for Get Safe Online East Sussex: www.getsafeonline.org/eastsussex.
The Council achieved Cyber Essentials Plus accreditation during 2022/23. Cyber Essentials Plus is the industry standard for the private and public sectors, underpinning safe sharing with partners and helping ensure sufficient controls are in place to minimise the risk of a cyber incident.
The East Sussex Safer Communities Partnership is responsible for creating and monitoring plans to tackle crime and disorder, re-offending, and substance misuse in East Sussex. It brings together strategic and frontline expertise from teams across the Council, as well as those from Policing and Probation, district and borough councils, and the VCSE.
In collaboration with our partners we continued working on building safer communities and helping survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence during 2020/23. A needs assessment refresh was completed in 2022 to establish progress against the Support in Safe Accommodation Strategy. Over the last year, the Voices of Lived Experience Board (VOLEB) expanded to ensure that survivors’ voices are represented and heard at the Domestic Abuse Partnership Board and inform commissioning activity. VOLEB members have delivered training to Sussex Police, undertaken engagement work with children and young people in refuge, and facilitated focus groups on the housing needs of domestic abuse survivors. The Safer Communities team co-hosted a successful Domestic Abuse Conference with West Sussex County Council during the ‘16 days of activism against gender based violence’.
Project ADDER, which is designed to address Hasting’s high rate of drug deaths and heroin and crack cocaine use and related harm, continued for another year in 2022/23. There has been a sustained reduction in the number of opiate-related deaths for those in treatment. There has also been continued success in the closure of county lines in the town. Across East Sussex, the numbers of people seeking treatment for non-opiate and alcohol use has increased by 25%. While numbers of people presenting for opiate treatment has levelled off, the proportion who complete their treatment journey in a planned way, and who do not re-present to services within six months has increased.
The rates of serious violence in our local communities are low. The Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts Act 2022 legislated for a new Serious Violence Duty which will impact upon Council services and partnership arrangements. The Council will have an essential and leading role to play in both the partnership arrangements and the delivery of activity to prevent and address serious violence. The agreed governance mechanism for the duty is the pan-Sussex Violence Reduction Partnership.
Educating young people is an important part of our work and we continued to deliver a range of workshops in schools covering topics such as knife crime and violent extremism. We also worked with partners to pilot a place-based approach to crime and anti-social behaviour in an area experiencing some of the highest levels of harm, made possible with a successful bid for Safer Streets Funding.
We have also continued our efforts to combat modern slavery. We have developed a Modern Slavery Supply Chain Statement, and applied a ‘Contextual Safeguarding’ approach to disrupt County Lines activity and the exploitation of vulnerable young people and adults. In 2022/23 we delivered training to raise awareness and reporting of Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking to staff working in the VCSE, supported a VCSE-led Modern Slavery conference, and worked alongside Sussex University to develop an East Sussex Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking needs assessment. In June 2022, The Clewer Initiative and the Anti-Modern Slavery Ambassador from the Roman Catholic diocese highlighted the ways in which faith can challenge Modern Slavery in the first of a new series of webinars specific to Sussex.
We ensured that information on Modern Slavery and Human trafficking was incorporated into the Homes for Ukraine welcome packs and worked with partners to understand any potential exploitation risks to displaced people.
During 2022/23 we have continued to support health and care services to prevent and to respond to outbreaks of infectious diseases, including COVID-19. Our Health Protection Team supported the training of over 80 Infection Prevention and Control Champions in care homes. We continue to protect the health of vulnerable groups of people through our support of the ongoing NHS COVID-19 vaccination programme which runs alongside the annual flu programme. A key aspect of our vaccination related work is the development of Community Health Champions, who are volunteers trained and supported to communicate health messages to their families, friends and networks, ensuring that people receive factual information and are supported to make changes to maintain their health. Our local sexual health services saw more people order condoms online than ever before and there were over 12,000 orders for postal home test kits for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
Helping people help themselves
Supporting local communities
The Council continues to play a key role in providing support to Ukrainian guests living in East Sussex as part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme, and their hosts. As of April 2023 1,013 guests were in East Sussex under the Homes for Ukraine scheme, at 445 different properties across the county. More than 412 school places have been allocated to Ukrainian children. The majority (84%) of guests matched to hosts in East Sussex have now arrived. Some guests who were staying with hosts in East Sussex have now moved on, with a proportion moving into private sector accommodation or to other areas.
A new Homes for Ukraine partnership developed rapidly to provide the wraparound support for hosts and Ukrainian guests, with all tiers of local government collaborating with partners across the statutory and voluntary sector to ensure people got the information and support they needed. Volunteers in our communities have played a vital role and new groups and hubs have been created across the county which have served as an essential and valued source of advice, support and connection.
We are working hard to ensure that Ukrainian families can take the next steps towards independence as East Sussex residents. This means ensuring all Ukrainians can access support with welfare and wellbeing, English language courses, employment support and routes into secure accommodation. We have commissioned new services and programmes to enable this, with a Support into Work programme and a Move On grant programme launched in autumn 2022. Throughout our work, priority has been given to provide support to all members of local Ukrainian families, with almost all Ukrainian children being allocated local school places and support being put in place to ensure children can access what they need – from fun activities to support with emotional wellbeing and language support at school.
We have secured additional funds from the NHS and Homes for Ukraine to develop social prescribing and positive activity programmes for children with mild to moderate mental health and emotional wellbeing issues. Voluntary sector organisations will deliver the project, starting in 2023.
Primary Care Networks (PCN) and Foundry PCN children and young people’s Social Prescribing programmes have been allocated NHS Health Inequalities funds to pay for positive activities for children with mild to moderate mental health and emotional wellbeing issues who are part of the programmes. These programmes are underway in 2023/24.
The Council has developed a website and package of cost-of-living support which includes information, and advice on employment and skills, managing debt, maximising benefits and grants income, housing, homelessness, fuel poverty, warm spaces, mental health, food, clothing and transport costs.
Funding from the government’s Household Support Fund was used throughout 2022/23 to provide food vouchers during the school holidays to 2-19 year olds who are eligible for free school meals. Supermarket vouchers were provided directly to 20,000 families each holiday by schools, settings and colleges.
The Council began a new programme of work related to the arts, health, and creativity. Creative Health can be defined as the broad range of artistic and creative activities that can contribute to health and wellbeing. We have created a county-wide, three-year Creative Health strategic plan in 2023 to embed arts to improve and sustain the wellbeing of our residents, and launched our flagship creative health project, The Catalyst – Collaborative Collective, which targets 14–24-year-olds. Evaluation of the program is progressing and will be completed by 2025.
759,005 visitors went to an East Sussex library in 2022/23. This compares with just over a million visits in 2019/20, meaning that visits are approximately 75% of pre COVID-19 numbers, but show a 47% increase on visitor numbers in 2021/22. We take part in national benchmarking and the average return to pre-covid footfall currently stands at 70%, therefore, ESCC is doing well and in the upper tier of recovery with footfall and visitor numbers nationally. In total approximately 1.9 million issues and renewals of Library and Information items took place in 2022/23, both online and in person from our 17 libraries. Library user surveys show that the Council provides a high-quality library service, with overall customer satisfaction levels at 95%.
Work has continued to ensure that our buildings are safe, in a good state of repair and that they meet the needs of our customers, and we have continued with our extensive refurbishments programme. During 2022/23 improvements were made to Newhaven and Rye libraries, including to the layout to enhance the customer experience and where possible, reduce our carbon footprint and energy costs. Children areas and study spaces have been upgraded and new seating areas have been created so that customers can browse services in comfort. The improvements will support the library service to deliver its aims, including improving child and adult numeracy and literacy. A community hub opened on our Gypsies and Travellers Brid Transit site that allows site residents and East Sussex Travellers to access the internet and meet professionals on site for a range of outreach support work.
Helping people maintain their independence
A key part of the service we provide in Adult Social Care is reablement support, which helps people to regain mobility and daily living skills, especially after a hospital stay. Providing this support not only helps adults to maintain their independence, but also helps alleviate pressure on local health services at a time that they are particularly stretched. In 2022/23 90.5% of older people discharged from hospital to reablement / rehabilitation services were at home 91 days after their discharge from hospital. Through the year 94.7% of people who received short-term support did not request any ongoing support. 67.7% of Reablement service users discharged from the Joint Community Rehabilitation Service did not require on-going care. We also provided telecare services to over 9,600 people, this includes wearable alert buttons, fall detectors and medication dispensers. As well as supporting vulnerable adults we also provide support to their carers. In 2022/23 we supported 494 carers with short-term crisis interventions.
Helping people to stay safe and secure
The Council uses a whole family approach to deliver our 0 – 19 Early Help Service. Strong partnerships with Sussex Partnership Foundation Trust enable us to deliver integrated services at the Single Point of Advice ensuring families get the right support at the right time from the right service. East Sussex Health Care Trust support our delivery of the universal Healthy Child Programme for children aged 0 – 5 where we can identify additional need at the very earliest opportunity.
The Government’s Supporting Families programme brings agencies together to help support families with multiple and complex problems. We were set a target for 2022/23 of supporting 500 families to make sustainable positive changes, helping them to be more resilient and to thrive. We exceeded this, supporting 594 families to achieve significant and sustained progress.
We launched a second Mental Health Support Team (MHST) in Hastings in September 2022 bringing the total number of schools supported by a MHST to 71. These teams deliver high quality interventions to support children and young people. As part of the new team, we have recruited a SEND specialist to work with two special schools in the town. We are championing a Whole School Approach to mental health and emotional wellbeing. Listening to and hearing the views and feelings of children and young people and their families is very important.
During 2022/23, One You East Sussex, the county’s integrated health and wellbeing service, has continued to encourage and support residents to improve their health and wellbeing. Health Coaches have supported almost 2300 residents to achieve goals relating to eating well, moving more, and drinking less alcohol, with over 1600 residents starting a face to face or virtual weight management programme and almost 2400 residents working with a stop smoking advisor to set a quit date. The service continues to be as accessible to residents as possible, offering a hybrid model of face to face, as well as online and remote support.
In 2022/23 the Council’s Warm Home Check service received over 6,000 enquiries to its helpline and delivered 633 home visits for low-income households. The estimated combined increase in clients’ household income following advice and support provided was almost £300,000, plus nearly £30,000 saved in estimated annual energy bills due to improvements provided. Major home energy efficiency improvements were delivered using £1.5m of funding awarded to a consortium of East Sussex local authorities through the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero’s Sustainable Warmth competition. About two fifths of carbon emissions in East Sussex are from people's homes, so helping vulnerable residents improve the energy efficiency of their homes through the installation of low carbon options will also help address the climate emergency.
Helping children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities
In November 2022 we launched the new East Sussex Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Strategy 2022-25 after a 10-month consultation period with key partners across the East Sussex SEND community. The Strategy outlines a joint approach to service provision and commissioning. It puts children and young people, and their families at the centre of decision-making. The strategy sets out the shared ambitions we aim to achieve across Education, Health and Social Care over the next three years for children and young people with SEND.
The Department for Education approved four applications for new schools in April 2017. These were for three special schools and one alternative education provider. The last of these to open was Summerdown School, two special schools on the same campus for children and young people with autism and profound multiple learning difficulties. The school opened in September 2022, significantly expanding the range of provision on offer for local children with SEND.
As part of our drive to expand specialist facilities attached to mainstream schools, and increase the number of children with SEND attending a school close to their home, a new facility was opened All Saints CE Primary School, Bexhill on 1 September 2022. The facility can accommodate up to 12 children with Autism and associated Social, Emotional and Mental Health and Speech, Language and Communication Needs.
We recruited several Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Ambassadors in 2021/22. These ambassadors helped ensure that children and young people’s voices influenced the services we deliver, including in the development of our Inclusion Special Educational Needs and Disabilities plans. We increased the number of these in 2022/23 and four of the Ambassadors represented the council at the Council for Disabled Children national conference in February 2023.
Making best use of resources now and for the future
Efficient and effective working
Our Reconciling Policy, Performance and Resources approach to business planning continues to prove effective in matching our resources with our delivery plans for our priority outcomes during 2022/23. Our integrated planning process has allowed us to focus and protect our spending where it will deliver our priority objectives most effectively. We ensure we have the demographic trends and performance information to monitor progress, as well as evidence to support lobbying at a local, regional and national level. Reconciling Policy, Performance and Resources has been used to manage our planning as we begin to adjust to the longer-term impacts of COVID-19, alongside developments in service delivery, and look to the new opportunities available through the East Sussex Economy Recovery Plan. Additional funding announced by Government, together with our careful planning, has meant that we have been able to balance our budgets for this year and invest in key priorities for local people.
We continued our lobbying activities in 2022/23, feeding in to national policy and helping to promote the needs of our area, and our neighbours across the south east through our partnership work. The Leader continued to act as the County Councils Network spokesperson for Children’s and Young People’s issues. As part of this work the Leader took the opportunity to meet with Local MPs to discuss the latest priorities for the Council and residents. Local authority funding, and in particular funding for highways maintenance, was a focus for our lobbying activities.
We also continue to invest in the development and wellbeing of our staff. For example, we have staff enrolled in 33 different types of apprenticeship, ranging from entry level to master's degree. We ran a succesful ‘Ladder to Leadership’ development programme in 2022/23 and will run another in 2023/24.
We ensure that we manage and optimise our financial resources within sound governance and financial assurance. Our External Auditor reported in March 2023 on the Council’s Value for Money arrangements. The Auditor considered whether the Council has in place proper arrangements to ensure economy, efficiency and effectiveness in the use of its resources. They found that there were no significant weaknesses in our financial arrangements, that we have a strong understanding of our financial position and an awareness of the significant challenges that we will be facing in the coming years.
We are committed to making best use of our land and buildings, and take a targeted approach to the timely disposal of non-operational assets to minimise costs, as well as seeking opportunities to secure income from non-operational assets. During 2022/23 we completed the disposal of two key assets to secure capital receipts of £1.15m.
Reducing our carbon footprint
We declared a climate emergency in October 2019, recognising the threat of climate change to the county and the world. We have set a target of carbon neutrality from our activities as soon as possible, and in any event by 2050, in line with the target for the UK. To help meet this target we have an ongoing programme of work to reduce carbon emissions from Council buildings. This includes both work to produce renewable energy and improving the energy efficiency of our buildings. The annual Greenhouse Gas Report for 2021/22 was published in 2022/23. This included estimated procurement related carbon emissions from the Carbon Modelling Tool.
The Council reduced its carbon emissions by 32% against the baseline year of 2019/20 during 2022/23, which is a significant reduction but slightly under target of 34%. Improved management of the Council’s buildings to reduce energy usage is the main factor driving this reduction. However, the need to provide ventilation in our schools and other Council buildings to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infections meant that we had to use more energy to heat our buildings over the year which contributed to not reaching the target.
A programme of carbon reduction measures continues to be delivered in schools and across the corporate estate, in line with our current Climate Action Plan. The reduction in emissions resulting from energy efficiency projects completed towards the end of 2022/23 will be realised during the coming year and are expected to help us meet our 2023/24 target of 43% reduction compared to the baseline year.
The Council delivered 21 energy efficiency projects during the year:
- Eleven projects have been completed as part of the 2022/23 LED lighting programme with one additional project almost complete.
- Eight solar photovoltaics (PV) projects have been completed.
- The Ninfield Decarbonisation project was completed in November 2022. The second project at Herstmonceux completed in January 2023.
Tendering commenced for six primary schools heat decarbonisation projects, part-funded by a successful award of grant funding over £1m for the Phase 3b Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme. There is one corporate project (Greenwood) fully funded by the Council. Contracts have been awarded for three sites with programmes of works planned for summer 2023. Tendering for the other four sites will be completed in Q1 2023/24.
Market testing of the potential “invest to save” Schools’ Solar scheme commenced in 2022/23. Inhouse desktop modelling by the Energy team produced indicative system sizes, energy, carbon and cost savings for a sample of ten schools. The data has been used to illustrate how a scheme, part funded by the Council and part funded by an interest free loan, might work. Schools have been asked to review proposals and provide quantitative and qualitative feedback to inform the scheme going into 2023/24.
A further four Energy Saving workshops for both School and Corporate Site Managers were delivered in January and February 2023 to support energy cost and carbon reduction through good site management practice. This brings the total number of staff trained to 82.
We also teamed up with other Sussex authorities to launch Solar Together Sussex, a group buying scheme allowing residents to buy high-quality solar panels and battery storage at a competitive price. An average solar PV system can help residents reduce their annual carbon emissions by around a tonne each year, helping East Sussex on its way to become carbon neutral.
Full details of our results against 2022/23 Council Plan targets and budgets can be found in our end of year monitoring report. Details of our future actions and targets to deliver our priority outcomes are set out in the Council Plan 2023/24. A full review of the Council’s position and future challenges can be found in State of the County 2023 (please see Cabinet Item 5 Reconciling Policy, Performance and Resources - State of the County).
There is a lot more information on our website about the services we provide, how the Council works, how to contact your local councillor and how you can have your say about Council services and decisions.