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

County council sets out challenging budget for next five years

Record spending of £310 million on care, growing a strong economy and attracting investment into Staffordshire are at the heart of a challenging budget being set out by the county council.

The increasing costs of care for a growing ageing population and children in care continue to be the biggest pressure for the county council,  as it still has to tackle a £12 million shortfall to balance its books next year.

As the county council moves to becoming self-financing due to the loss of Government grants, Leader Philip Atkins said it is crucial the county council continues to grow the economy, attract and support more companies to do business in Staffordshire and promote the county as a great, affordable place to live by encouraging house building.

Philip said:

We have already reduced the running costs of the county council by £195 million over the past eight years, but each year the funding for care continues to rise and the challenge to fund this and deliver a balanced budget continues to grow too.

We do have a  good story to tell, in than out our economic programme has already 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 both make sure we build on this achievement, but also continue protect those people such as the elderly, people with disabilities and children in our care who through no fault of their own need our help the most.

However, as a local authority we can’t spend more than we have coming in and, in order to try and close the increasing financial gap over the next five 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 more independently where we can as the public purse simply can no longer sustain the growing demand.”

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

• Investing around £310 million on in the care of the elderly, the disabled and children in our care
• Investment programme in highways and infrastructure – including additional £5 million to tackle potholes in 2018/19
• Increasing county council tax by 4.95 per cent this year, which includes the Government’s 3 per cent ring-fenced precept to be spent on local care – equivalent to an overall rise of  just over £1 per week in county council tax on a Band D property
• Bidding to be part of a Staffordshire-wide pilot which if successful would  see the county council keep 59 per cent of all business rates instead of 9 per cent
• 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