Staffordshire County Council’s budget for the next financial year will help protect the incomes of local people and continue to make the creation of new jobs a top priority.
Staffordshire’s “budget for families and jobs” shows how the council is investing in important areas for the county despite the cuts in public spending nationally. It also demonstrates the council’s aim to reduce where it can its share of council tax bills over time.
The budget proposals, which form part of the council’s Strategic Plan and Medium Term Financial Strategy, were given the backing by members of the full council today.
The strategies outline the county council’s plans for the year and how it will pay for its work – and recommend the new levels of council tax for 2013-14.
The county council share of the tax bill for a typical Band D property will be £1,027.25, a real terms reduction over the last four years once inflation and the county council’s tax freezes are taken into account.
The budget reflects input and ideas from local residents, businesses and trade unions. Business people have welcomed the council’s priority on improving economic prosperity locally – and schemes such as providing loans for small business.
Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member education, finance and transformation for Ian Parry said, “This is a good and balanced budget for families and jobs. It reflects what local people and business have told we are the most important things for them: more money in their pockets, supporting business to create jobs and helping those individuals in most need of support.
“We have worked extremely hard to keep council tax as low as possible. Maintaining a well-run council enables us to focus on the top priorities, cut waste and not to burden the taxpayer with any increases. We have achieved efficiencies through transforming how Staffordshire County Council operates, not by cutting services.
“We have shown innovation in how we work; from setting up a joint business venture to deliver education support services to making careful investments to bring jobs and economic growth to Staffordshire. Challenging times undoubtedly lie ahead and the county council faces the same pressures as other local authorities nationally. We have received less money directly from the Government, as we thought, and expect further reductions in the future.
“However there are opportunities; for example business rate retention, where councils can retain and invest rates where they demonstrate an ability to bring in business and inward investment. This is an area where we have already made great strides.”
County council leader Philip Atkins added, “This budget isn’t a one-off; it is the product of four years good, sound and responsible leadership from the council that has transformed services rather than cut them, kept taxes low at an unprecedented time of economic stress and anticipated the need for change.
“Whilst Staffordshire County Council has made its contribution to dealing with the national deficit, we have continued to meet our residents’ needs as well as planning for the future. I am excited by the prospect of what this well-run council can achieve as it delivers new and innovative services.”