More than £350 million is to be invested in Staffordshire in the next 12 months as part of the County Council’s spending programme.
Planned spending includes business development, school expansion and town centre regeneration projects, as well as additional road repairs and preparing for the next generation of Gigabit broadband across the county.
The investment is part of the authority’s continued support as it leads the county’s recovery from the pandemic by investing £46.5 million in support for small business, skills training and delivering health initiatives to help those with drug and alcohol addictions, promote good sexual health and tackle ill-health caused by cold homes.
Ian Parry, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Finance and Resources, said: “We are investing in the future for Staffordshire and its people, investing in infrastructure and in public health so residents live healthier lives for longer.
“The money we spend on physical and digital infrastructure creates the right conditions for businesses to invest, grow and create more, better jobs and opportunities for Staffordshire people.
“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 pressure 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.”
Since 2014 the Council’s £390 million Economic Growth Programme has delivered more than 10,000 jobs and enabled more than 4,000 houses to be built.
In the year ahead, work is scheduled to begin on the Chatterley Valley West employment site in Newcastle, which will eventually create up to 1,700 jobs. And both the newly opened £17.4 million Lichfield Bypass and £63 million Stafford Western Access Route will reduce congestion and open land for 3,500 homes to be built.
And the County Council is working with Staffordshire’s eight borough and district authorities to invest more than £6 million in skills training and apprenticeships.
Planned investment in 2022/23 includes:
- £18 million on school buildings;
- £1 million preparing for the arrival of Gigabit broadband;
- An extra £15m on road repairs over and above the planned £29 million annual investment;
- £5.4 million for moving towards net zero carbon, plus the on-going installation of 42,000 energy-efficient LED streetlights;
- Continued delivery of £6 million of work for the Warmer Homes Fund, installing central heating in low-income homes;
- The first half of a £22 million two-year programme to build two new adult care homes and refurbish another;
- A further £500,000 for supporting existing small businesses and helping new ones start up;
- Around £40 million in public health programmes which include 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.
As in previous years, around two-thirds of Staffordshire’s budget will be spent on the provision of social care for the elderly and for supporting and protecting vulnerable children and young people.
Ian 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 ringfenced for social care. This year, Staffordshire remains one of the lowest county council taxes in England and, if approved, this increase equals 78p a week for a Band D property.