Staffordshire’s leader says we should use the economic lessons of recent years to plan for our future prosperity.
Writing in his New Year message to other local authorities and public services in Staffordshire, County Council Leader Philip Atkins says that in 2018 the authority will continue with its established, successful policy focusing on encouraging economic growth to help people help themselves.
Pointing to historic high levels of employment with record unemployment of one per cent in the county, a high number of schools rated ‘good’ by Ofsted and investment in new business parks, faster broadband and upgraded roads, Philip Atkins says:
The importance of a strong and growing economy offering more, better paid jobs cannot be underestimated.
Ensuring people are in work and have money in their pocket to lead the lives they want remains the most important thing we can do to improve family incomes and reduce demand on public services in a time of tighter funding.”
Philip Atkins, leader of the authority since 2009, says that pressure on the health and care system arising from a growing elderly population means that in 2018/19 the council will be spending a record £310 million on care, preventing it spending as much as before on other areas.
In his letter, he adds:
In recent years the county council has been increasingly honest that we can no longer afford all the things we used to do or would like to do.
We need to find different ways of working that help people to help themselves, take greater personal responsibility for their own lives, health and wellbeing, and greater responsibility for improving their own communities.
Get this right, and reduce demand on public services, and we can target the resources we have at the people who really need them.”
February’s meeting of the council’s cabinet will also consider a four-year development plan, which focuses on supporting the economy, housing, education, children and families.
And Philip Atkins promises to carry on working with other bodies across the public sector to deliver the strategy and make best use of its combined £7.4 billion budget in Staffordshire.