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An external review of Staffordshire County Council's performance found many positives.

County council to deliver record spending on care with balanced budget

A record £310 million will be spent on care this year by Staffordshire County Council as it looks to present a balanced budget for 2018/19.

Despite the huge pressures of funding care for a growing ageing population and children in care the council has managed to close a £12 million shortfall and balance its books.

As the county council moves to becoming self-financing, due to the loss of Government grants, Leader Philip Atkins said it was crucial that the county council continues to grow its economy, encourage more building of homes and support efforts to find a national solution to funding care if it is to meet the significant financial challenges which still lie ahead.

Philip said:

We have a good story to tell here in Staffordshire. We have low unemployment, a good children’s service and our economic programme has brought in almost £400 million of investment – with every pound from the county council being matched by £15 from the private sector or Government and once complete it will see the creation of over 13,000 jobs.

We will continue to do everything we can to build on this achievement. However, as a local authority we cannot spend more money than we have coming in and, in order to try and close the increasing financial gap caused by increasing demand in social care over the next four years, we will all have to work together to help each other more in our communities and take steps now to live out our lives longer, healthier and more independently where we can, so the county council can focus on those who really need our help.”

Part of the wider proposals in the five year plan from 2018 and 2023 include:

• Investing a record £310 million on care of the elderly, people with learning disabilities and children in our care
• Increasing county council tax by 5.95 per cent this year, which includes the Government’s 3 per cent ring-fenced precept to be spent on social care – equivalent to an overall rise of around £1.30 per week in county council tax on a Band D property
• Building on the extra £5m investment to tackle potholes
• Bidding to be part of the Government’s next round of business rates pilot, which would bring in an extra £10m to the county council
• Roll out of the Smart Staffordshire programme – maximising the use of digital technology to benefit residents and businesses
• Encourage a programme of housing development to support growth and investment in the county

Mike Sutherland, Cabinet Member for Finance added:

While nobody likes to pay more, Staffordshire will still have one of the lowest county council taxes in the country and it simply comes to a point when we all have to do a little more to support our friends and neighbours and also pay a little more to be able to protect the most vulnerable people in Staffordshire.

Over the coming years we will help continue to reshape public services, encourage less demand on the public purse and will work with Government to address long term funding issues for both social care and for supporting children in the council’s care.”

The final budget and the council’s medium term financial strategy for 2018-2023 will be presented to Cabinet before being recommended for approval by Full Council on February 15.