Focusing on the things that matter most to people

When we ask people what are the things that matter to them most they tell us it’s having access to good jobs, being healthy and that they have a good place to live where they can feel happy and safe. Our job as a County Council is to help make this happen and having listened to what people want we will focus on this to transform our county and our lives as we live here.

I would like to share with you the three priorities that we will be focusing on over the next few years. We want people to be able to access more good jobs and feel the benefits of economic growth. From creating jobs at I54 South Staffordshire, to Redhill, in Stafford and all the way to the City Deal this is a priority where the county council excels and delivers. But we know that some of us will still struggle to find work, and some businesses can’t get the staff they need to grow – so there is more to do to join things up.

As well as being able to access high quality jobs we all want to be healthier and more independent and to feel safer in our community. These are priorities where the council can also help – from commissioning new services from our public, private and voluntary partners to working with communities to tackle excessive drinking or the fear of crime.

Over the next three years these priorities will drive everything we do, and together with our partners at the police, health services, and local business we’ll improve the lives of the people in the county. Staffordshire is a great county and I want people to be able to say that with pride. I want to see a county where individuals and families take responsibility for their own lives and support others to do so, where everyone can succeed in a thriving economy.

Just this week we saw the launch of the Government’s Your Life campaign to help increase take up and opportunities in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths). We know that strong links with education providers, businesses and councils are essential to ensure that people are trained with the right skills and this compliments much of the work we are already doing here in Staffordshire to make sure we have a skilled workforce for the future.

Working with our Local Enterprise Partnership we are providing more training opportunities, with the help of the development of a new engineering and automotive hub in Tamworth. The launch of the Staffordshire Apprenticeship Ambassadors Network two months ago has also seen the number of apprentices go up. The i54 South Staffordshire education partnership, JCB Academy and the City Deal funded training provider all offer great opportunities for the future.

Also this week we had the launch of the Government’s £3.8bn Better Care Fund which aims to build on delivering integrated care with a greater pooling of resources across the public sector to deliver more care in the community and less in acute hospitals. As I have spoken about before, we are ahead of the game on this work having created the country’s largest integrated health and social care trust in 2012– which saw 1,100 employees transfer from the county council to the new organisation.

The fund now offers us an unparalleled opportunity to build on the progress we have already made in focussing on prevention, early intervention and integrated care in the community. We have now submitted a plan to the fund which would unlock a minimum pooled budget of £56m to help deliver integrated care in line with our priorities.

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