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Long-term thinking underpins investment

More than £360 million will be spent on social care in Staffordshire next year to support vulnerable adults and children – the highest figure in the county’s history.

Although almost two-thirds of Staffordshire’s net budget is earmarked for social care, Staffordshire County Council is also proposing continued multi-million pound investment in business development, school expansion and town centre regeneration projects, as well as additional road repairs and preparing for the next generation of Gigabit broadband across the county.

Presenting the draft Budget for 2022/23 Ian Parry, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Finance and Resources, said the authority continued to invest in the future while supporting those in need.

He said: “We are planning ahead, laying the foundations now for Staffordshire’s economy to thrive through the 2020s and beyond, while, on the other, managing rising demand for social care.

“We will always help those who need support, but until there is a sustainable, national solution to the provision of adult social care, it will remain the single biggest expenditure of this and similar councils.

“The Government’s planned increase in National Insurance is intended to support social care but in the short term that money is being used for the NHS, so for the time being the Council has to carry on funding such care from Council Tax.

“We’re also very aware that the Government’s plans for adult social care reforms, including the £86,000 individual spending cap, mean that in future more people will be eligible for their care to be funded by the Council and there will be higher costs from providers.

“Not only do we need that long term solution, but a settlement spanning several years, rather than just 12 months at a time, would let us plan for the future and share our long-term thinking with residents.”

As well as work beginning on the Chatterley Valley West employment site, targeted support for small businesses and investment in skills training, planned spending in 2022/23 includes:

  • £18 million on school buildings;

  • £1 million preparing for the arrival of Gigabit broadband;

  • £44 million on highways investment;

  • £6 million to tackle ill-health caused by cold homes

  • £5.4 million for moving towards net zero carbon, plus the on-going installation of 42,000 energy-efficient LED streetlights;

  • Continued delivery of £6 million of work for the Warmer Homes Fund, installing central heating in low-income homes;

  • The first half of a £22 million two-year programme to build two new adult care homes and refurbish another;

  • A further £500,000 for supporting existing small businesses and helping new ones start up;

  • Around £40 million in public health programmes which include treating drug and alcohol addiction, helping hundreds of people lose weight before they contract diabetes, supporting young people’s mental wellbeing and maintaining people’s general good health for longer in later life.

The County Council is proposing an increase of 2.99 per cent, comprising a 1.99 per cent general increase and one per cent ringfenced for social care. This year, Staffordshire remains one of the lowest county council taxes in England and, if approved, this increase equals 78p a week for a Band D property.

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