78 jobs at risk as City Council look to make £9m savings

Council tax is set to rise 3.99%, while 78 job losses have been proposed, by Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

The authority has put forward its plans to reduce spending by £9.2 million during 2020 – 2021.

That includes: 

  • a £1.2m saving by closing some small group children's homes, and moving youngsters to supported accommodation and other providers where appropriate
  • raising charges for the service users with learning disabilities for day services, to bring them in line with comparable local authorities
  • review of public health contracts including Community Drug and Alcohol Service and Stop Smoking Service aims to save £1m
  • bringing the commissioned mental health services for adults in house and delivering through local, integrated teams, aimed at creating a more holistic and enabling service
  • reducing collection periods for organic waste to 'better reflect when the service is most used'
  • an increase to fees and charges for bulky waste from £16 to £40 for 5 items.

City council bosses say the proposals respond to a number of financial challenges they face as government funding is being reduced, alongside increased demand for children services - which are undergoing a period of improvements.

The number of children in care in the city is currently 913 – the highest it’s ever been.

The budget proposals aim to build on the redirection of £5.5m of funding to transform children services in summer 2019 through a mid-year budget.

It will mean a record £139.8 million spent on adult and children services in the next 12 months.

Adult and children services now account for 61 per cent of the overall budget of the city council.

Government has previously set out the expectation for local authorities to levy a two per cent council tax precept to directly support adult social care.

The council’s 3.99 per cent council tax increase breaks down as two per cent directly for adult social care to respond to the additional social care pressures being faced in the city and 1.99 per cent for supporting vulnerable families and people in Stoke-on-Trent.

This means the majority of residents for 2020/21 will pay an additional 67p a week increase, equal to £34.73 for the year.

Bosses say there has also been challenging increase nationally in demand for statutory services for older people and people with learning disabilities. The proposals are based on a one- year settlement from government, whilst clarity is sought on future settlements. 

The plans also include £336m in capital investment up to 2025, with plans to support housing growth and a £30m investment in commercial properties.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council leader Abi Brown said: “We have worked hard for the last four years to deliver a city that is ‘Stronger Together,’ and we believe that it remains the ‘golden thread’ that unites the city.

"We have been very honest with residents over recent years about the financial challenges we face. Like many other councils, we have been increasing spend on adults and children’s services and this demand continues to increase.

“While we know our Stronger Together strategy is transforming Stoke-on-Trent – we are seeing more homes, more jobs, and more benefits for the local economy - there is still a long way to go and our finances remain challenging. We spend 61 per cent of our budget on adults and children’s services and this demand continues to increase.

Councillor Abi Brown is leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council

"We have to support the children in our care - they are our number one priority - and the adults and families that need our services.

"Funding from government has significantly and at the same time by law we have to balance our budget – we have no choice but to continue to make difficult decisions around our priorities. Costs have gone up as has demand for our services.

“Our capital Investment budget to 2025 is increasing by £336m. This is money that can only be used for fixed assets such as land, buildings or equipment. This is an ambitious programme of investment that shows our brilliant city off to its best and provides the benefits our residents need. It is critical if we are to bring new business to the city and attract residents to grow our tax base, helping us to become more financially independent."

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