Archive for October, 2018

The 2018 budget and what it means for Staffordshire

Wednesday, October 31st, 2018

On Monday we had the Chancellor’s Budget with pledges for some short-term funding for adult social care, extra money to tackle potholes and £1.6bn to deliver the industrial strategy.

On top of this were details of the £20bn for the NHS – and the extra £650m for councils to help manage the growing adult social care bill next year.

While the measures are welcome news for the taxpayer and High Street business, we are now looking at the details to see exactly what it means for Staffordshire.

I’ve blogged before about the county council seeing the cost of funding adult social care and supporting children in its care increase by more than £100m in the past ten years. This is all at a time when national funding has continued to fall. And, the reason we face a shortfall of £35m in our budget for next year.

But in this budget it was good to see the Chancellor recognise the huge financial pressures councils face in funding care with additional funding for 2019/20. The additional money for roads, science and innovation and measures to leave families with a little more money in their pockets are equally welcome.

Later in December, we’ll also get the Government’s Financial Settlement which will tell us exactly how much we have to spend.

Our work to supporting a strong economy by creating the best conditions for business and housing development to thrive continues. Creating not only more jobs, but more well-paid, better skilled jobs will be better for everyone and the county as a whole.

Celebrating the best of our food and drink businesses

Wednesday, October 24th, 2018

This week we got the chance to celebrate the best of the county’s food and drink businesses at the 2018 Good Food awards

We really do have a thriving food and drinks sector in the county and this year’s ceremony at Uttoxeter Race course was a great opportunity to bring together the industry and showcase what we have to offer.

There were ten categories and it was a particularly good night for the Staffordshire Moorlands, with The Three Horseshoes Country Inn, Leek, winning the Casual Dining Restaurant of the Year award for the second successive year.  The Roebuck in Leek also got Pub of the Year, The Cottage Kitchen Country Café, near Leek, won Tea Room/Coffee Shop of the Year While The Boat Inn, near Lichfield was named Independent Restaurant of the Year.

And, closer to home for me,  Denstone Hall Farm Shop near Uttoxeter was named the Farm Shop of the Year, as well as being selected for the special Judges Choice Award for getting a faultless 100% score on their inspection and their continuous achievement of excellent customer service.  There were also awards for South Staffordshire’s Essington Farm, Seed Chocolate, Tamworth’s Buzzards Valley Vineyard, and Calcott Turkeys.

Our businesses continue to do us proud, offering the best of quality produce and wonderful hospitality and I’d like to say a huge well done to them all.  Keep up the good work.

You can find out more about eating out in Staffordshire and this year’s winners at www.enjoystaffordshire.com/GFA

A digital future

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

We can all see around us how digital technology can make our lives easier, improve productivity, increase skills and help the whole county prosper.

I’ve blogged about smart technologies before, and how they are having a real impact on how we do things often providing great opportunities and solutions to problems.   For example the introduction and growth of smart phone usage and the numerous things we can now do when and where we please.  Businesses also continue to use innovation and digital technology to make them more productive and better serve and connect with their customers.

On Friday I was delighted to launch an exciting partnership with Staffordshire University that will help us all harness the power and opportunities that new digital innovations are bringing.  Working together, the ‘Staffordshire Deal’ will not only help support a thriving local economy but improve people’s lives by making the most of this latest technology.

As well as a new digital hub in Stafford, and the promotion of digital skills to support the needs of local business, the partnership will also create thousands of apprenticeships over the next decade. The deal will also make sure businesses are ready and waiting for the digital future, because  investing in the economy is the best way to raise living standards.

It’s exciting times.

The University is already celebrating 50 years of computing excellence and have been national pioneers in computing and the digital future .  Now, working with them, and our other partners over the next few years, we will create a stronger and prosperous county where  more people have access to better jobs, and have more money in their pocket because they have the skills they need.

National Adoption Week

Monday, October 15th, 2018

I hope you will join me this week in supporting National Adoption Week and highlighting the urgent need for more adoptive families, in particular those willing to adopt sibling groups.

Currently in the county, Almost seven out of 10 children waiting for adoptive families are brothers and sisters in groups of two or more.  And, while finding families for sibling groups is the focus of our campaign, we are also looking for potential families for children of all ages, those with additional needs and children from ethnic minority backgrounds.

This week we’ve also seen New research that shows that the West Midlands has 4 times as many children awaiting adoptive families as there are adopters so there is a real need to find more loving families.

Children who come to adoption do so because their birth families are unable to care for them. Many of them have experienced neglect and trauma and need a loving, stable home.

We know that in most cases, adoption is the best option for children and it can transform the lives of those it touches.  I would definitely encourage people looking to start or complete their family to think about adoption and get in touch with the team.

Throughout the week, we have a series of road shows touring the county where people can find out more.  But, if you can’t make a road show you can also get in touch through www.Staffordshire.gov.uk/adoption or by calling 0800 169 2061.

Remember to get your flu jab

Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

It’s that time of year again to remind anyone who’s elderly, who’s caring for someone who’s vulnerable or young children to have their flu vaccination.

As in previous years, the free flu vaccines are being offered to groups who are at particular risk of the virus.  Pregnant women, parents of children aged 2 and 3 years old, adults with underlying health conditions and young children are amongst the groups being encouraged to take up the offer of a free vaccination.

It’s really important that people eligible for their vaccination take this offer up.  Those who have had Flu will know how nasty and unpleasant it can be and for people with underlying health conditions it can be even more serious.

This year, children aged 2 and 3 will also receive the vaccine through their GP which comes in the form of a nasal spray. Pupils in reception and school years 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 will also be given the vaccination spray in school but parents are reminded to make sure they have signed the consent form.

The flu vaccine really is the best defence against the spread of flu and the start of the flu season is always the best time to get vaccinated.  Please take up your offer of the vaccination and help us keep the flu away this winter.

You can find out more from your GP or your child’s school, or visit www.nhs.uk/fluvaccine