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 STOKE-ON-TRENT, NEWCASTLE-UNDER-LYME, STAFFORDSHIRE MOORLANDS, SOUTH CHESHIRE

Council budget to save essential services approved for full council deliberation as council leaders warn challenges still lie ahead



Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s cabinet has approved proposals to save essential services, while tackling huge pressures on the authority’s finances as set out in the 2024/25 budget.

 

The proposals, which were open to public consultation until 12 February, include raising council tax by 4.99%, with an additional £26.1m invested into social care services to look after the people in our communities who need the most support. This would include a record budgeted investment into adult social care as part of a proposed increase in spend on children’s services, adults’ services and public health to £192.1m.

Based on consultation feedback from residents and key stakeholders, proposed changes have been made to the community development team, to retain one community development officer for the next 12 months to ensure a smooth transition to the new community support arrangements, and that the council will retain the properties for all the small group homes and manage the provision flexibility in accordance with need.

The report, which was approved in Thursday’s cabinet meeting, highlighted the unprecedented challenge for local government and the wider public sector. It stressed that the city council has faced significant financial challenges for a number of years due to the impact of national funding reductions, rapidly increasing levels of demand for services such as social care, and low levels of financial resilience due to a relatively weak council tax base.

Council leader Jane Ashworth said: “Thank you to everyone who shared their feedback on our budget proposals during the consultation. We consulted on proposals that will save a total of £3.4m, with a further £4.6m to be saved in back office work to transform the way services are delivered without impacting on the frontline. We have made some changes to these proposals based on that feedback and will continue to work with our residents to make our city is a great place to live, work and enjoy.

 

“We have now had our annual local government financial settlement, this was slightly better than we originally thought due to an increased social care allocation. But this is still not nearly enough! Many challenges still lie ahead, government funding has significantly reduced in recent years. We are still in detailed talks with government for a package of extra financial support of up to £42.2m over the next two years – funding that would allow the authority to change the way children’s services operate to help more children and families to thrive.

 

“The financial problems of the city council lie firmly, but not exclusively, in the way councils are funded. Here in our city, we have been forced to make £270m in savings over these years. As the needs of people in the city have gone up, the resources given to us by central government have gone down.

 

“We will know the outcome of this in early March and will continue to face up to these horrendously difficult decisions head-on. We are committed to getting on track to improve the quality of services which can make such a difference to family life and the local economy.”

 

The budget proposals will now be put before a meeting of the full council on 5 March.

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