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Investment promise despite budget pressures

Staffordshire’s communities will receive millions of pounds of investment in the coming year, despite financial pressures on local authorities.

Budget planning for 2024/25 by Staffordshire County Council earmarks money for roads, support for new and existing businesses, rural broadband, public health and investing in communities.

While two-thirds of the authority’s spending will be on adult social care and supporting vulnerable children and young people, the authority is forecasting it will balance its books for 2024/25.

Ian Parry, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Finance and Resources, said: “We remain a well-run, stable authority despite the difficult financial pressures many councils are facing.

“We will spend every pound as wisely as we can, supporting jobs and investing in our communities so that Staffordshire remains a great place to live, work and raise a family.”

Since 2014, Staffordshire County Council’s Economic Growth Programme has delivered more than 11,500 jobs and enabled more than 5,000 houses to be built.

Successes include new arrivals Fortune Brands delivering the first 300 of up to 1,700 additional jobs at the i54 Western Extension business park.

At the same time work continues on the Chatterley Valley West site near Kidsgrove, which will eventually create up to 1,700 jobs.

And the authority is delivering the new A34 roundabout access near Stafford for the Pets at Home national distribution centre, which will lead to 800 jobs.

The County Council’s provisional financial planning for 2024/25 notes that inflation alone is adding an expected £22.3 million to the authority’s existing costs for next year.

It’s also expected that around £435 million of Staffordshire’s anticipated £680 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: “We are still awaiting a final settlement from Government and then we will finalise our proposals.

“Although we know 64 pence in every pound will be spent on care, thanks to careful management we can still commit to investing in Staffordshire’s future while delivering a balanced budget.”

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