• CEO Update 25th September 2020


    With so much information in the media about Covid-19, a second wave and increasing transmission rates, it can feel overwhelming.  The Government want to keep the R rate below 1, as this means it isn’t spreading.  According to statisticians the R rate across the UK this week was between 1.1 and 1.4, which is why new measures have been introduced to hopefully slow the rate down.  The BBC have produced a good page that might help to explain what the R rate means: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-52473523

    This week we have two suspected cases in Oxfordshire: one affecting someone we support who is awaiting test results, and another affecting a member of staff. Both cases are in different areas and therefore unconnected. We are aware that there are difficulties accessing tests for those not working in social care; however, we haven’t experienced any problems.

    The new measures this week won’t have an enormous impact on Autism at Kingwood, or the people we support, as we have continued to encourage people to keep to safer environments and maintained remote working for many. We have now limited offices to 3 people, however, and requested non-frontline staff to return to working at home in most circumstances.

    Yet life goes on. This week saw a very different AGM for Autism at Kingwood. The Board of Trustees met online to formally appoint John Finney as Chairman Elect, re-appoint David Swann as our Treasurer, and Rebecca Vickers as Chair of the Risk & Care Practice Committee. Trustees tend to sit quietly in the background but they are critical to helping the charity operate. They also approved the annual accounts which are published on our website and will be logged with the Charity Commission.

    The accounts reflect what we already knew; that austerity in Adult Social Care is squeezing budgets – hard. We finished the March 2019 to April 2020 financial year with a deficit on our core support services of £64k. Although for us this is the first time in many years that we have had a deficit result, it is the norm for many providers in social care. There are many contributing factors to this result, however the main cause was the increase in the use of agency staff (as unemployment was very low in the Thames Valley). This increased expenditure coupled with vacancies in some of the services where we provide support (decreasing our income) was a large contributing factor to the deficit. We have already been able to turn that around, as our recruitment rates have gone up, as social care is one of the most secure employment sectors at the moment; and we have additional income as we supported people to move into their new homes.

    Despite Coronavirus, as we approach the mid-way point of this financial year, we are in a small, but comfortable surplus position. The fight is not over; perseverance, determination and good leadership will overcome.

    Best wishes.


    Abi Cowley

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