Staffordshire County Council has frozen council tax for the fourth year at the cost of making £19.3m worth of budget savings.
At a meeting of full council this morning (Thursday 13th February), members approved a new five-year financial plan. Alongside a new strategic plan, the budget documents set out how the county council will invest and create the right conditions for the economy to grow and new jobs to be created.
The county council will continue to receive less money from Government as it works to reduce the national debt. At the same time demand for many services, for instance adult social care, people with disabilities and children in need of care, is increasing.
The authority previously said job losses were “inevitable” but it had not yet decided how many posts would go.
About £4m worth of cuts will be made to elderly care services that enable older people to stay in their own homes. There will be a review of 38 youth clubs which could be closed down or run by other organisations to save £2.8m.
Stafford Library is to be moved from the Shire Hall to the council’s new headquarters, Staffordshire Place, to save £75,000.
Partnership working and continuing to find new, more efficient ways of providing the support that people need, will see the county council make £19.3m of savings over the next 12 months. This is in addition to the £130m of savings made over the last five years.
Philip Atkins, Leader of Staffordshire County Council, said: “The county council is focusing on what matters most to people in Staffordshire and is finding more efficient, effective ways of delivering this ambition, we have made a good start on transforming Staffordshire County Council and the county’s public sector to better meet the needs of local people.”
“This budget is about bringing growth, jobs and greater prosperity to Staffordshire and more opportunities for our people.”
He continued; “There is much more work to be done, as demand for services such as adult social care and looked after children continues to grow, and we have to ensure every penny of our reduced income is well spent and delivers.
“It is also essential for us to work closely with public sector partners who together spend over £7.5 billion of public money in Staffordshire. We have a duty to make sure all this money is spent wisely and effectively, reducing the burden on taxpayers.”
Ian Parry is Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, Resources and Transformation. He added: “Today’s decision protects the finances of Staffordshire people at a crucial time when our economy is moving in the right direction. For the fourth year running, our portion of council tax bills will not increase, and Staffordshire will continue to have the lowest council tax of any English county, giving local people real value for money.”
“This is a budget that strikes the right balance between ensuring that we meet the needs of those people who need us most, investing in our economy to support jobs, and finding the savings to balance our books.”
“Over the last five years, the County Council has made £130m of savings while freezing council tax, investing in our economy to create jobs and working closer with partners to get the maximum impact from the £7.5 billion of taxpayers’ money spent in Staffordshire every year.
“However, our income is considerably reducing, so we need to be really clear about priorities and carry on finding new, better ways of doing things.”