Issue - decisions

Strategic Plan and Medium Term Financial Strategy 2019 - 2024

20/09/2018 - Strategic Plan and Medium Term Financial Strategy 2019 - 2024

Philip Atkins


Over the past nine years the county council has reduced running costs by £240m. In that time, we have supported a flourishing economy with record low unemployment, and created better jobs, education and training opportunities, all with one of the lowest county council taxes in the country.


We have a track record of delivering results and working with partners across the Midlands to help make the lives of Staffordshire people more rewarding. Our commitment to do this remains undiminished and we remain ambitious for Staffordshire and its people. 


Protecting the most vulnerable people in our communities also remains a key priority and a fundamental statutory duty of the county council.


In the last ten years we have seen costs for adult’s social care and children’s care soar by £100m, at the same time as national funding has continued to fall. As a consequence we face a £35m shortfall in our budget next year.


As we have already reduced our own running costs in the past nine years, we now have no choice but to make some extremely difficult decisions about what we can continue to fund.


We will continue to lobby Government on the critical need for more money for social care. We are bidding to be in the next wave of a business rates pilot scheme and pressing for flexibility around council tax increases – all of which would help to bridge the £35m gap.”


Philip Atkins, Leader of the Council


This county council has a proud record of managing taxpayers’ money wisely and well to deliver the best possible results for the people we serve. However, we are in unprecedented times, and we need to do things differently.


While we have a good grip on our finances this year, with a £35m shortfall in our budget in 2019/20, we have acted swiftly to plan and prepare so that we can meet our legal duty to balance the books and ensure financial sustainability for the 2019-2024 MTFS period.


This report presents a credible plan to close that gap, but we do not underestimate how difficult some of the savings options are. Where possible we are protecting frontline services for vulnerable people and communities.  


However, our current financial position means that the only way to present a balanced budget is by securing considerable extra funding or a significant reduction in services citizens may expect in core areas such as care, highways and transport.


Although these are still proposals, it is right that we progress with our plans to ensure we are in a position to be able to deliver a balanced budget, which we have a legal duty to do


Mike Sutherland, Cabinet Member for Finance


Reasons for the Decision – To consider the Medium Term Financial Strategy and Draft Budget for 2019/20.


Decision – (a) That the progress made regarding the development of the financial planning for the council for the period 2019-24, in the light of the direction contained in the Strategic Plan, be noted.


(b) That, in respect of the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) 2019-24 and the 2019/20 revenue budget -


(i)            the updates to the financial plans, as set out in the report, be noted;

(ii)          the additional savings, as set out in paragraphs 55 -75 and the appendices to the report, be agreed;

(iii)         the risks associated with these additional savings, as set out in the report, be noted and the Senior Leadership be requested to undertake the appropriate engagement arrangements required to deliver the savings;

(iv)         the draft revenue budget for 2019/20 be noted;

(v)          a further report be submitted to Cabinet in January 2019, once the details of the Local Government Finance Settlement are known, to recommend a Revenue Budget, MTFS and Council Tax to Full Council in February 2019;

(vi)         the Corporate Review Committee be requested to scrutinise the proposed pressures and cost reduction options against the principles of a good and balanced budget; and

(vii)        the Chief Executive be given authority on behalf of the County Council, in consultation with the Leader, to approve the terms of, and subscribe to, the Business Rates Pilot Application to be submitted by Staffordshire authorities.