We will be pump priming superfast broadband to 90% of Staffordshire by 2015 with £7.5m, levering in up to £100m in private investment. By the end of 2012 we will have chosen a provider and we will be leading a major project in spring next year. Faster broadband will give all of us better opportunities to access employment, education, health, social, and leisure services as well as boosting the local economy.
Our Education Support Service programme will see the county council working with a private sector company to deliver services including ICT, grounds maintenance and catering to the county’s schools. Without change the service would decline and this will help secure 5,000 jobs and allow the council to deliver more cost effective and better quality services from 2015 onwards.
While we have pledged to keep subsidising travel for school and college students from low income families or who have disabilities. We are encouraging other 11-19 year olds to use the award winning Your Staffordshire Card to get around the county for just £1. These changes mean we can still target help to those most in need, save nearly £700,000 in two years which can help with reducing the debt pressure, or towards reinvestment in other services.
We will be offering a ‘rural premium’ to people who receive a direct payment to fund their care. This will help bridge the gap of higher care costs in some remote areas which we know is the case. This will give people more choice and control over the services they receive.
It was also great to hear Staffordshire mentioned in the national news for its adoption and fostering service. We have been praised this week for placing children into fostering families almost twice as fast as the national average. We all owe a big thanks to our teams and the fostering families across the county and if you get a chance please praise them for their great work.
Finally, a big ‘congratulations’ to all our inspirational Torch Bearers who will be carrying the Olympic Torch through the county on its way to London for the Games. I’ve already met a few and some of the stories of personal achievements and triumphs they have are incredible. Let’s make sure that we are all out on the streets on 30 May and 30 June to cheer them on.