Council tax to rise again in Staffordshire with £350m spending planned

Council tax is to rise in Staffordshire once again as the local authority plans to invest more than £350 million in a range of services.

The county council plans to spend on road repairs, school expansion and town centre regeneration together with business development, Gigabit broadband technology, skills training, green initiatives and the promotion of good health.

But with the cost of social care accounting for two thirds of the council’s annual spend it is proposing a 2.99 per cent increase in council tax, with one per cent ring-fenced to help pay for care services.

Councillor Ian Parry, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for finance and resources, said: “We have a stable, sustainable financial strategy - we will live within our means.

“But we recognise there is a need to invest in Staffordshire as we come out of the pandemic and support those areas that need additional help - the economy, infrastructure and social care.

“We know that every pound we invest in Staffordshire’s future attracts another £6.60 of private and public sector investment so despite the many pressures facing councils like ours, including the mounting cost of social care, we’re determined to invest all we can to keep growing the county in a sustainable way.”

Planned investment, detailed in the £582m budget which goes before cabinet next Wednesday and full council next month, includes £18m on school buildings, £15m on road repairs in addition to the £29m planned annual spend and around £40m in public health programmes.

The council says the latter involves treating drug and alcohol addiction, helping hundreds of people lose weight before they contract diabetes, supporting young people’s mental wellbeing and maintaining people’s general good health for longer in later life.

Staffordshire County Council is increasing council tax by 2.99 per cent

Some £5.4m has been earmarked for the drive towards net zero carbon, plus the ongoing installation of 42,000 energy-efficient LED streetlights saving £1.6m a year through energy savings.

The council also plans to invest £1m preparing for Gigabit broadband and deliver the first half of a £22m two-year programme to build two new adult care homes, at Histons Hill, Coven, and Rowley Hall, Stafford and refurbish a third - Hillfield House in Burton.

It says a £6m programme of work installing central heating in low-income homes will continue and £500,000 will be spent supporting existing small businesses and helping new ones start up.

Chatterley Valley West employment site in Newcastle, work on which gets underway this year, is expected to eventually create up to 1,700 jobs.

While the Stafford Western Access Route "will reduce congestion and open land for 3,500 homes to be built”.

The majority of the county council’s budget, however, will continue to be spent on social care for the elderly and protecting vulnerable children and young people.

Councillor Parry said: “We are a well-run, financially stable council but next year social care and supporting young people will again account for around two-thirds of our annual spending and the need to fund this remains a local responsibility.

“The Government’s planned increase in National Insurance is intended to support social care but in the short term that money is being used for the NHS, so for the time being the council has to carry on funding such care from council tax.”

The county council is proposing an increase of 2.99 per cent, comprising a 1.99 per cent general increase and one per cent ring-fenced for social care.

It says Staffordshire's remains one of the lowest county council taxes in England and, if approved, the increase will equal 78p a week for a Band D property.

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News