Delivering a balanced budget that is fair for everyone

This week we will be meeting as Cabinet to consider our spending plans for the next five years which will deliver a balanced budget and one that is fair to all our residents. Care of the elderly, the disabled and looked after children would continue to be our priority along with improving education for our children, growing our economy, attracting more better paid jobs and helping people live healthier lives.

Over the last five years we have already reduced costs by £150m and continuing to reduce each year remains a challenge.  If you are a regular reader however, you will know that here in Staffordshire, we always look for more innovative and affordable ways of doing things and working more closely with our partners rather than just a knee jerk reaction of cutting frontline services.

We are still waiting on details of Government funding, but are considering a small 1.95 per cent rise in council tax – while still keeping council tax lower than the majority of other county councils.  In the Autumn Statement, the Government have also given councils the option to raise council tax by a further 2 per cent which would go towards the increasing cost of social care.  This is something we would only consider if there was no other choice.

Improving support services with a new finance system that could save the Council £250k per year is also a project that we are currently looking at.  This along with a tendering process to see if the current system that runs the payroll for staff and related administration personnel could be delivered in a new way, could both help us make valuable savings.  As I’ve said before we will always look at how we do things here in the Council and try to find better, more efficient and affordable ways of doing things which makes good business sense.  Any savings in our back office departments such as these also allows us to focus our resources on frontline services, protecting the vulnerable and supporting those who need help in the community.

And now to some festive cheer – and with Christmas just around the corner, here’s a reminder of some of the exciting things you can do and visit in Staffordshire over the next few weeks.

A visit with the children to see Santa, last minute shopping trips, fun of the pantomime and the prime locations to see in the New Year are just some of the activities available.  Treats include the Magical Christmas at Drayton Manor Theme Park With more than 20 rides and attractions to enjoy, spectacular decorations, festive music and guaranteed snow for at least three times a day.  Families can also join Santa on his annual adventure at the Alton Towers resort as it opens up. Experience the ‘Elves’ Emporium’, and selected theme park rides.

People can discover Christmas at World of Wedgwood, which is a treat for all visitors, with the museum, new restaurant and the shop with a host of Christmas bargains. Blithbury Reindeer Lodge is another experience like no other in the UK. It is an authentic, unique and award winning winter wonderland complete with Scandinavian style traditional wooden buildings, a Christmas tree lined sleigh ride path and reindeer of all ages and types. If you love your pantomimes there’s lots happening too for all the family.  In Newcastle-under-Lyme Robin Hood and Marian is taking place at the New Vic Theatre. Elsewhere in the county audiences can see Jack and The Beanstalk at Lichfield Garrick Theatre and Aladdin at Tamworth Assembly Rooms.

Comments are closed.