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Record spend on care set for approval by council cabinet

Plans for a record £300million spend on caring for the elderly, people with disabilities and vulnerable children are set for approval by Staffordshire County Council.

At their meeting next week (Wednesday 1st February), Cabinet Members will be presented with a proposed balanced budget for 2017-18. It will include extra funding announced by the Government before Christmas to contribute towards for the rapidly growing demand and cost of social care.

Cabinet are recommended to increase county council tax by 4.95 percent from April, which includes the Government’s 3 percent ring-fenced increase for care. Bills for a Band D property would increase by just over £1 a week for a Band D home.

Philip Atkins, Leader of Staffordshire County Council, said:

“This budget, while undoubtedly the most challenging we have seen to date, will help us build on our track record of growing our economy and at the same time also see us, at a record £300m, spending even more on adults and children’s social care next year.

“With a growing ageing population to support, we all now need to look at doing a little more for ourselves where we can, while also paying a little more to help those who really need our help and support the most.”

Since Cabinet considered the draft budget in December, further cost reductions have been identified across the county council, including removing vacant posts, holding other jobs vacant and making savings in the back office.

Combining these cost reductions with the additional money from Government for care and an extra 1 percent in council tax, has balanced the budget for next year.

Philip added:

“We are working hard to bring investment into the county, create new jobs and opportunities and help Staffordshire families lead more prosperous, rewarding, healthier, happier and independent lives, which should help reduce some of the pressures on the services the council provides. This is the right thing to do.

“Over the last seven years we have also looked at how we can make the council as efficient as possible and have reduced our own running costs by around £200m.

“This year as well as reducing our costs, we have had to take very difficult decisions in order to bridge a significant shortfall in our budget and meet our legal obligation to balance the books.”

The council’s final budget proposals and medium term financial strategy will be presented at Full Council for approval on 16th February.