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County Council closes £35m shortfall to deliver a balanced budget

Staffordshire County Council today presented a balanced budget after taking early, decisive action to close a £35m forecasted shortfall in the next financial year.

The final plans were presented to Full Council after the authority tackled the unprecedented challenge caused by the rising costs of care for increasing numbers of vulnerable adults and children.

Philip Atkins, Leader of Staffordshire County Council, said:

By taking early, decisive action we are now in a position, not only to deliver a balanced budget for 2019/20, but also have put in place a robust financial plan for the next five years.

We have been honest with residents about the scale of the challenge and the difficult decisions we have made and will continue to face.  We have listened too about their concerns and responded where possible including: continuing to fund the school crossings patrol service, keeping all-day concessionary travel for disabled people and providing funding transition for the community and voluntary sector.

We successfully secured one-off  funding from Government for highways and social care to help ease immediate pressures, but we have made it clear that a long-term national solution for funding care must be urgently addressed and we will continue to work with our MPs to press the Government on this.”

As well as lobbying Government, the council also secured additional funding by successfully bidding to be part of a national business rates pilot scheme. Council tax will also rise by 2.95 per cent this year, less than 10p per day more  for a Band D property and still the third lowest county council tax in the country.

Philip added:

In order to support a growing ageing population, increasingly we will all have to do more and pay a little more to continue to protect the most vulnerable in our communities.

While councils can no longer do or fund everything we would like to, we remain focused on supporting communities to find their own local alternative and affordable options to help themselves, their families, their friends and their neighbours even more.

Despite the pressures, we remain hugely optimistic and ambitious for the people who live or work in our fantastic county. We have a good story to tell with near full employment, the average full time weekly gross wage increasing to £551 per week, 96 per cent broadband coverage and it’s also a fantastic, affordable place to live.

Now we have delivered a balanced budget, the priority is to get on with the tasks in hand including continuing to grow our economy, creating more skilled jobs, investing in our roads and schools as part of our £116m capital building programme, empowering our communities, promoting digital solutions, playing a stronger role in housing development and supporting everyone to lead an independent life for as long as possible.

The challenges are still very much there, but so too are the rewards of creating better, healthier and more rewarding lives for the people of Staffordshire.”