STAFFORDSHIRE County Council has balanced its books and invested in the future despite rising costs and the beginning of the Coronavirus crisis.
Figures published today shows the authority invested £110 million in more school places, highways and economic regeneration schemes across Staffordshire in 2019/20.
The report also says that rising prices and increased demand for older people’s care saw an additional £10 million spent during the year, taking expenditure on these services to £210m for the 12 month period.
And the number of ‘Looked After Children’ cared for by the authority rose from 1,175 in April 2019 to a peak of 1,257 that autumn before falling slightly to 1,218 in March this year.
Philip Atkins, Leader of Staffordshire County Council, said: "This report covers the last financial year, including the period in March when the authority first began helping those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, so it does not begin to reflect the millions of pounds subsequently spent in that direction.
"However, it shows that despite the rising costs of care for older people and providing support to vulnerable children and young adults the council has still been able to invest millions of pounds in more school places, highways and economic regeneration.”
"In the current financial year 2020/21 the county council has already committed two-thirds of its budget to providing adult care and supporting vulnerable children.
"At the same time the authority pledged to spend whatever it took during the Covid-19 pandemic to support care homes, key workers, communities, businesses and the vulnerable people of Staffordshire, easing the burden on the NHS.
Coun Atkins added: "We have received around £38m in support from central government towards dealing with Covid-19, but – including planned savings that will not be made this year due to the pandemic – the current financial impact to the council will be around £50m.
"Councils must always be accountable for how they spend public money and we cannot borrow money to fund day-to-day services, so the longer term implications for this authority, particularly around the rising costs of adult care and children’s services remain a serious concern.
"We continue to work with Government to find answers to putting local government funding on a more sustainable footing.”