Philip Atkins, Leader of Staffordshire County Council, said:
We will have to look at the detail of the Chancellor’s announcements, but there appears to be support in the budget for small businesses in Staffordshire, money for skills training and help for those in need, we well as extended childcare to help parents.
Social care is the biggest pressure facing local authorities today, and this coming financial year the county council will be spending £300 million helping the vulnerable. This is a national issue and the Chancellor’s announcement of extra money to spend on helping the elderly out of hospital and back into their homes, including some to be spent from April onwards, is recognition that we can’t solve the problem in isolation.”
Turning to the issue of business rates, Philip Atkins said:
While we are home to major employers in the county, including JCB, JLR, Pirelli, GE and many others, small businesses play a key role in our economy, especially in rural areas, and I welcome today’s news of the transitional arrangements.
Given the suggestion that local authorities may eventually become reliant on business rates for their income, we would expect to play a full part in the future review of them announced by the Chancellor.
We have focused in Staffordshire on investment in physical, electronic and educational infrastructure so that new and existing businesses can thrive and prosper and the proof of the success of that policy has been unemployment rates in the county standing at one per cent or lower since 2015.
We have £37 million earmarked for Staffordshire in the next few years to shape the skills training system and this follows a great deal of planning and consultation by the county council in recent years so our employers know they have a skilled workforce on their doorstep, while better trained workers can earn more.
I think the investment announcement today for ‘T-levels’ has the potential to reinforce that, so parents and pupils have an equal choice between academic and technical routes to earning a good wage.”
Finally, I was delighted to hear confirmation that the 30 hours’ free childcare scheme, which has been piloted successfully in Staffordshire this year on behalf of the Government, will be rolled out for all parents of three and four-year-olds, allowing them to either work more hours, or save money if they already are.”