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Budget for new financial year agreed by Stoke-on-Trent City Council

Published: Wednesday, 6th March 2024

Plans to help tackle huge pressures on the authority’s finances due to the rising demands of social care are set to continue.

Councillors at Stoke-on-Trent City Council yesterday (Tuesday) proved a raft of measures including a record budgeted investment into adult social care, with an increase in spend on children’s services, adults’ services and public health to £192.2m.

The council’s 2024/25 budget will see council tax rise by 4.99 per cent, which includes a social care precept of two per cent. The increase is the equivalent of £0.99p a week for the average council taxpayer in the city. This still means the majority of local residents would be paying around £130 less than the average resident in other unitary authorities.

Council leader Jane Ashworth said: “This budget is a step forward in our plan to arrest our financial decline, stabilise our finances and start to build a road to recovery. We want to reduce our biggest costs, so we can get control over our spending more quickly.

“It has been no secret we have had to make tough decisions, setting a balanced budget is a challenge that all local authorities around the country are facing. We are ambitious for our city but we inherited a legacy of huge budget pressures and predicted overspends that this budget addresses.

“Most car parking charges are being frozen, we will not be shutting leisure centres, libraries or museums, nor will we cut the grass less frequently. We will be making a record investment in adult social care, we will invest £117 million to bring council homes up to a decent standard and we will lay the basis for building approximately 600 new homes every year in the city.”

The budget comes at a time when the amount of government funding awarded to the city council is insufficient to meet increasing costs and rising demand for services.

This week it was announced that the council has received an ‘in principle’ decision that it can borrow up to £42.2m over the next two years – funding that would allow the authority to change the way children’s services operate to help more children and families to thrive. Over the two years, up to £20.5m could be drawn down in 2023/24 and £21.7m in 2024/25 which will then need to be paid back in subsequent years.

Council leader Jane Ashworth continued: “There have been years of austerity in which we have been forced to make £270m in savings, and we are not alone.  We are now calling for a fairer funding formula, to narrow the north south divide and give cities like ours a fair chance to get back on its feet. We are paying the price of a system where central government funding does not follow local needs but we are committed to getting on track to improve the quality of services which can make such a difference to family life and the local economy.”