End of year budget

I’ll probably refrain from making any observations on this week’s General Election, as the dust has not settled and there remains much that is undecided.  Life in Staffordshire, however, goes on, and there is much to do.

We have some good news on the financial front, which is something that I have not been able to write for some time.  The financial outturn for 2016/17 – our end of year budget position – will be published here tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday 12 June). We have closed the gap, which at one point stood at a £22million overspend, down to just over £4.5million, which we can cover from reserves.  Regular readers will remember this from last year’s running theme of in-year savings caused by the failure of the NHS to pay us the £15m contribution in the Better Care Fund (BCF) and an overspend in the Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Partnership Trust (SSOTP) for adult social care.

I am delighted that we have managed to reduce our costs by an additional 4% in year, as well as the 6% that we had planned, without causing our services and those who rely upon them significant harm.   Many of you will have heard me say that I have not seen this done well – in-year savings usually cause fratricidal damage inside organisations, and more often than not fail to meet their targets.  Well, I have seen them done well now, and while it has been a tough 12 months, it is down to the efforts of the politicians and officers of the council who have tackled this in an admirably professional manner.  Every part of the business has contributed to the effort, and I am hugely grateful for everybody’s efforts.

The trick now is to take what we have learned in terms of financial awareness, attention to detail and cohesive decision-making, and shift at least part of our attention to the longer term and the big ideas that will make the difference for the citizens of Staffordshire.



John Henderson

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