Investing for tomorrow and helping those needing care today are the promises at the centre of the new Staffordshire County Council budget.
Speaking after the budget for 2022/23 was passed at a meeting of Full Council, Leader Alan White said millions of pounds was being invested in physical and digital infrastructure for business, skills training, schools and preparation for the next generation of high-speed broadband.
At the same time more than £360 million – the highest figure ever in Staffordshire – is being spent on providing adult social care and supporting vulnerable children, plus another £40 million allocated to public health initiatives.
Alan White said: “Our economy underpins everything in Staffordshire and we will carry on our successful strategy of investing in job creation as we know that pays dividends – people with good jobs live longer, healthier, more independent lives.
“Since 2014, our Economic Growth Programme has delivered more than 10,000 jobs and work will continue this year at several landmark sites across the county, as well as investing in skills training and broadband.”
The meeting heard expenditure in the next financial year includes:
£18 million on school buildings;
an extra £15 million on road repairs over and above the planned £29 million annual investment;
£5.4 million for moving towards net zero carbon;
£6 million, with district and borough councils, in support of small businesses and skills training.
Around £40 million of public health schemes will include drug and alcohol addiction, promoting good sexual health and keeping people fitter for longer later in life, but around two-thirds of the council’s expenditure will be on the provision of adult social care and supporting children in vulnerable families.
Alan White added: “Supporting older people is an essential duty but the reality is that as more of us live for longer, the cost of that support is mounting and it is increasingly difficult for councils to sustain from local taxation.
“The Government’s planned increase in National Insurance Levy is intended to support adult social care, but for the time being that money is being used for the NHS and we have to carry on funding it from Council Tax.
“We also know that plans to cap care spending at £86,000 per person means that more people will be eligible for their care to be funded by the Council and there will be higher costs from providers.
“There has to be a long term national solution to social care and a settlement spanning several years would let us plan for the future rather than 12 months at a time.”
Council Tax was set for 2022/23 at a 2.99 per cent increase, including one per cent ringfenced for social care. The increase for a Band D property will be 78 pence a week.