Archive for March, 2014

2014 Budget

Monday, March 24th, 2014

The Chancellor delivered his budget on Wednesday and it was very much as expected with the usual facts and figure confirming what many of us already know: the economy is growing and unemployment is falling, but within local government we still need to exercise restraint. Whatever your own personal view, it’s clear that we still face ‘more of the same’ – central government grants will continue to reduce and impact up on us – and we know that demand on our services will increase.

The budget didn’t deliver anything new, but I thought it did reflect many of our challenges in Staffordshire even if our job isn’t yet done. The budget reinforced the need to do more to drive exports through local firms and get a firmer grip on public finances, an approach which reinforces what we’re doing here in Staffordshire to deliver savings and efficiencies, as well as support our local economy. Resources will continue be tight, but we have to look across the public sector, and beyond to make better use of what we have to continue to offer services that people need.

The Chancellor’s announcements about changes to the savings and pensions systems do represent a step change in how people can control their money later in life. This is something that all parties have welcomed for the sheer scale of change that is proposed. By giving people more control over their retirement resources, this supports the wider direction evident throughout the public sector of giving people more control over their own lives.

The health economy in Staffordshire

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Health is something that affects us all, from our own experience of being ill, or the increasing experience of caring or knowing someone who is caring for those with long term conditions right across to what we see in the news. The recent announcement by the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt to agree with the dissolving of the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust, means that our local health economy here in Stafford and Cannock will change. But, by how much?

It’s still the case that in the future, Staffordshire will have a number of different health and social care organisations operating such as Clinical Commissioning Groups, NHS Trusts, Health and Wellbeing Boards and many other social care providers. This means challenges shall remain with the health landscape to co-ordinate and integrate services for the benefit of local people.

Our health economy in Staffordshire needs support having recently been categorised as being ‘in distress’, which means the government will help challenge and reshape services provided in the area.  We simply can’t keep doing what we always have – services need to change that’s what we’ve learnt from the tragic situation at Mid-Staffordshire. I believe the County Council through its partnerships and role in social care, public health and the Health and Wellbeing Board is critical to making sure the community is heard, and that integration is at the forefront of what we are doing to help local people be safer and healthier.

We cannot control the health economy, but we can make sure that it all links together, that every penny is spent providing the best quality health and care services and making sure that the lessons from Mid-Staffordshire are not forgotten. At a time of difficult decisions across the public sector, we are willing to get involved and do what’s right for Staffordshire.