Extra funding for health and social care announced in Autumn Statement

In the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement we saw a strong focus on improving health and social care services and extra funding for the NHS which I’m sure will be news welcomed by local residents. Alongside this was fairer funding for our schools, which we have lobbied hard for, an increase in funding for major transport projects and the creation of 26 new enterprise zones, one of which is at Ceramic Valley in the north of the county.

The Government still needs to reduce funding across its departments, and tough times still lay ahead but we very much welcome the extra support and funding being made available for health services and integrated community care.  Getting the very best care for our older and more vulnerable residents is something I’ve spoken about many times before and it’s something we all want to see.

We have already made major improvements in how we work with our health partners, including the integration of the county’s health and social care services three years ago.  And, through the Better Care Fund we will continue to work more closely with the NHS, pooling our resources to improve services and reduce the pressure on hospitals.

This year we have already specifically invested an extra £20m in social care and remain at the same time committed to finding better, more innovative, affordable ways to make sure people receive the best value and the best quality health and social care available.

Earlier in the week we got the long awaited announcement on the preferred route for accelerated Phase 2a of HS2 and that Crewe will host the station. The route will not only go to Crewe – but the project will be delivered six years ahead of schedule.  While the news will be welcomed by Crewe, the next phase of the project will cut through a further 33 miles of our countryside which I’m sure will be a bitter blow to those communities lying along its route.

Now that the route is confirmed, it brings to an end almost two years of uncertainty and means we can focus on getting the best deal for the county and for our communities.  We will be working hard with our partners to make sure we mitigate the impact on communities and the environment, we get meaningful compensation for people affected and we get some of the wider economic benefits of the scheme.

Back to the countryside and a subject that’s close to all our hearts.  As an 80% rural county it’s important we support our rural businesses and I’m pleased to be able to announce the brand new Staffordshire LEADER programme which will help us boost our rural economy.  There’s around 2.5m of funding available to a wide range of businesses or for those entrepreneurs who spot a gap in the market that will create jobs. Grants of £2,500 to £40,000 are being made available to individuals who need a little help in getting their idea off the ground. Funding up to 40 per cent of the total project costs is available, though more can be awarded in exceptional circumstances.  There’s more information at www.staffsleader.org.uk

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