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Ian Parry
County Councillor Ian Parry

Record spending on care planned as county council sets out Budget challenges

A record amount of funding is to be ploughed into the care of the elderly, the disabled and children in care by Staffordshire County Council – despite facing the most challenging budget to date.

The council says it has earmarked around £300m to help meet the increasing need to care and support a growing, ageing population.

While it is reported that the Government may introduce steps to ease financial pressures on local authorities, the county council has calculated that it may still need to maintain reduced costs of around £2m every month for the next five years to balance its books.

Ian Parry, the council’s cabinet member responsible for finances, said:

We recognise the sheer size of the challenge and as a consequence have already reduced our costs by almost £200m, but more still needs to be done.

“As a county council we have a good story to tell. We continue to attract investment and create jobs at flagship schemes, we have one of the lowest records of unemployment in the region and  the best rated children’s department in the West Midlands.

“However, with diminishing budgets and increasing pressures to fund a growing, ageing population, like all authorities we can’t spend more than we have coming in.

“This is not just about spending less.  It is about asking people to do more for themselves, their neighbours and their communities and, yes,  pay a little more too to protect those who can’t help themselves.”

Part of the wider proposals in the five year plan include:

• Reinvesting cash from the sale of empty or underused buildings and redundant land to businesses to fund core services
• Investing around £300m on in the care of the elderly, the disabled and children in our care
• Increasing county council tax by 3.95 per cent this 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.

Ian added

Nobody likes to pay more, and despite reluctantly  having to look at  increasing the council tax we will still have one of the lowest county council taxes in the country and it is important to remember the extra money raised will help our family, friends and neighbours right  here in Staffordshire.”

The current proposals will go to the county council’s cabinet in December, scrutiny in the New Year and Full Council in February.

The draft proposals are subject to further revision following the funding allocation from the Local Government Finance Settlement. The provisional settlement is expected later this month.