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

Investment continues in Staffordshire’s future


Investment in Staffordshire’s future will continue despite tough economic times.


Spending planned for the coming year by Staffordshire County Council includes building infrastructure for new businesses, investing in school repair and expansion, and supporting hundreds of apprenticeships.


And millions more will be spent on improving public health, tackling cold homes, supporting the voluntary sector and distributing help for households facing difficult circumstances.


Ian Parry, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Finance and Resources, said: “We remain a well-run, financially stable authority and by building roads, delivering broadband and supporting education and skills training, we are still able to invest in the future for our businesses and communities.


“We spend every pound as wisely as we can, which is why we can still look forward while dealing with the added strains of 11 per cent inflation and rising energy costs.”


Since 2014 the Council’s £410 million Economic Growth Programme has delivered more than 11,000 jobs and enabled more than 4,500 houses to be built.


The recent completion of the i54 Western Extension is due to create up to 1,700 jobs on top of 3,000 jobs at the neighbouring i54 South Staffordshire site, while a £2 million transformation of Stafford’s Shire Hall is providing flexible space for small businesses.


At the same time, work has begun on the £3.1 million Chatterley Valley West employment site near Kidsgrove, which will eventually create up to 1,700 jobs, with many other projects under way, including building the new roundabout access to Pets at Home’s national distribution centre in Stafford, which will create another 800 jobs.


Around £40 million is earmarked for public health projects, including weight loss programmes to reduce the risk of contracting diabetes, supporting young people’s mental wellbeing and treating drug and alcohol addiction.


Around £30 million of rolling investment is also earmarked for upgrading and refurbishing older school buildings, with extensions planned for schools in areas with growing populations.


And, at the same time, a further £50 million is allocated for the repair and maintenance of one of the largest county council highways networks in the country.


The County Council’s provisional financial planning for 2023/24 onwards notes that inflation alone is adding an expected £25 million to the authority’s costs for next year, while, again, around two-thirds of Staffordshire’s anticipated £587 million net budget will be spent on the provision of social care for the elderly and for supporting and protecting vulnerable children and young people.


Final decisions, including the proposed council tax, will be taken in the New Year once a final settlement from central Government has been provided.


That settlement is expected to confirm that local authorities can raise their council tax to 4.99 per cent without a referendum – the figure comprising 2.99 per cent for general purposes and 2 per cent ringfenced for social care.


Ian Parry said: “Some detail has still to be resolved when we receive the final figures from Government and we will think long and hard about the best way forward.


“But despite so much of our budget being spent on one or two areas, we can already promise widespread investment for the future.”

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