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Budget to transform services and invest in vital support for most vulnerable

Published: Tuesday, 15th February 2022

The city council’s Cabinet has today (Tuesday) considered a budget that includes...

£154.4m to be spent on children’s and adults’ social care in 2022/23, protecting and supporting vulnerable people most in need.  It will recommend that the City Council agrees the budget at its meeting on 24 February 2022.

This investment will be supported by an increase in funding from Central Government including an additional Social Care Grant and a new one-off Services Grant, and a proposed 2.99 per cent increase in council tax – 1.99 per cent of which will support children in care, and one per cent for adult social care.

The proposals would see the vast majority of residents pay an additional 55p a week increase in council tax, equal to £28.41p for the year. Council tax in the city remains the eighth lowest compared to 93 metropolitan and unitary authorities in the country, and the city has the fifth lowest average council tax per household.

The budget contains proposals to continue the transformation of services, particularly in light of the changing ways in which residents and communities access services since the impact of the pandemic.

The proposals, which have been subject to public consultation over the last six weeks, include turning children’s centres into ‘family hubs’, changing the opening hours of our six libraries, and further digitisation to give residents more choice and control as to how they receive and access services. Other highlights include strengthening the council’s special education needs capacity supporting children and schools across the city, continuing investment in maintaining Stoke-on-Trent’s green spaces to a high standard, and a continued offer of a free green waste service for much of the year.

Cabinet considered the feedback received through the public consultation. A separate consultation exercise took place for the proposals on children’s centres.  Views were mainly from a range of professionals who expressed a wish to work with the council on the development of the family hub model which is positive and bodes well for future collaboration to support children and young people in the city.

Our proposals on the future stewardship of our museums generated a lot of interest. We received a range of representations and met with key stakeholders, including a number of organisations of national significance in the culture and heritage arena, to discuss our plans, and as a result we are going to make some changes to our original proposals. 

First, while the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery will open to the public Wednesday to Sunday we will make Tuesdays a special day for schools where pupils can get exclusive access to the exhibitions and associated educational resources and opportunity. At Gladstone, rather than closing our doors to the public through the whole winter, we will seek to open at Christmas, February half-term and will consider opening some weekends, with special themed events aimed at attracting families to visit.

Cllr Abi Brown, leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council said: “We care deeply for the conservation of this city’s heritage and culture as our track record demonstrates, so it has been very important to listen carefully to all the feedback we have received. At the end of this process, we are confident that our core proposal of creating a single team to steward our two main museums at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery and Gladstone Pottery Museum is a sound one.

“However, there are some areas where we are going to make changes to our original proposals, following discussions with stakeholders. We will pause the proposed changes to the curatorial staffing, removing the budget reduction and bringing back alternative plans to enhance our ceramics curatorial offer.

“For Ford Green Hall and Etruria Industrial Museum, we will freeze the grant at the current level for one more year and work with both museums to secure a sustainable future position.   
“We cherish our museums and we know the people of Stoke-on-Trent do too. But we also know their current offer isn’t good enough. Footfall is falling and there is an urgent need for renewal. We are determined to start the process of change and are confident that ultimately our museums will be stronger and more sustainable as a result.

“This budget will enable us to improve our financial resilience, maintaining high quality services and continuing to deliver efficiencies for the Stoke-on-Trent council tax payer.”