Plans by Staffordshire County Council to spend a record amount on the care of residents look set to go ahead – as the budget for spending next year is finalised.
The council says despite facing an initial £14.7m funding gap in its overall budget for next year, it still plans to earmark around £300m to help meet the increasing need to care and support a growing, ageing population.
As part of the Local Government Finance Settlement, due to be confirmed early next year, the Government has already said councils can consider bringing forward an extra one per cent rise in council tax next year to help towards meeting the growing pressure on social care.
Ian Parry, the council’s cabinet member responsible for finances, said:
In the next financial year we will be looking to spend almost £300m on the care of the elderly, the disabled and children in our care – which will be record spending on the care of those who need our help the most.
“We are continuing to do all we can to reduce our spending, but this remains the most challenging budget to date as we try and prioritise services we need to fund, with the budget we now have available.”
The county council has already reduced is running costs by £200m since 2009 – and has spending controls in place across all departments to help close the gap in the budget.
We are in a strong position in terms of growing our economy, keeping unemployment low and having the best rated children’s department in the West Midlands, but the challenge of meeting the pressures of social care with diminishing funding continue to grow.
“While we are working with the Government on the final Local Government Finance Settlement, we will be considering all the options now available and will be working extremely hard to deliver a fair and balanced budget in the spring.”
Part of the current wider proposals agreed by Cabinet today (Wednesday) include increasing the county council tax by 3.95 per cent next year, which includes the Government 2 per cent ring-fenced precept to be spent on local care – equivalent to an 83p per week increase on a Band D property.
The final Local Government Finance Settlement is expected in February. The council’s final budget proposals and wider Medium Term Financial Strategy will be subject to further scrutiny and revision before being presented to Full Council on February 10.