CAREFUL use of taxpayers’ money in one of the most volatile financial years this century, has seen Staffordshire County Council finances remain stable.
The authority has focused on protecting its cash to ensure services are delivered and the council can continue what is necessary to support Staffordshire during the pandemic.
Mike Sutherland, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Finance, said: "The last financial year has seen great volatility in the money markets: there has been the uncertainty caused by extensions to Brexit, the boost provided by a clear General Election result and then the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw the FTSE100 fall more than 30 per cent at one point, the pound at its lowest level for 35 years and returns on some long term Government investments halve.
"Amid this we have followed a low risk approach to diversify our investments and use cash for investment rather than borrowing money.
"This approach has kept the council in a strong position, making significant savings for taxpayers while delivering the physical and electronic infrastructure Staffordshire needs.”
A Treasury management report for 2019/20 to be considered by the county council’s cabinet this month shows that the authority is managing its long-term loans effectively and has increased its cash reserves to cope with sudden contingencies.
In addition to a range of financial measures to help fight the pandemic, this has enabled the council to fund an accelerated payment regime to key suppliers over the last few months, helping local businesses with their cashflow.
Coun Sutherland added: "We will continue to review the Council’s position regularly and we have the flexibility to adapt our approach to risk management as necessary.
"The reality is that by keeping Staffordshire’s finances in a strong position the county council remains able to invest in reigniting and renewing the economy through investment in skills and training and supporting businesses to adjust to a post Covid-19 world.
"Staffordshire is a leader in digital and technological innovation and these will be hugely influential in our key industries.
"We are in a good position to seize new opportunities and respond to changing circumstances – and that all stems from having the right foundations in place.”