Local authorities are considering their options as they await the full impact of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement on budget plans for the next financial year.
As billions in tax rises and spending cuts were announced by Jeremy Hunt, councils across the county were getting ready to drill down into the detail ahead of local government settlements.
Reacting to the Autumn Statement, Alan White, Leader of Staffordshire County Council, said: “We remain a stable, well-run authority with a focus on growing Staffordshire’s economy through investment in education and training and creating the physical and digital infrastructure which allows businesses to prosper.
“We will have to study the detail of the announcement carefully to understand how it affects us and our budget planning for 2023/24 and beyond.
“The effects of inflation and the rise in energy prices are also adding to our daily costs and still, each year, we spend approximately two-thirds of our budget on caring for vulnerable children and the needs of increasing numbers of elderly people.
“Following the announcement on social care and its interim funding for two years, the biggest single issue facing this authority – and many others across the country – remains the need for a sustainable long-term national solution for funding adult social care.”
Stoke-on-Trent City Council said they were considering the Chancellor’s statement and were awaiting details from him on the settlement for local government – that announcement is expected to be later in December.
The Council is now working towards launching a consultation on 30 November on proposals for the council’s budget for the next financial year.
Meanwhile, the financial markets remained relatively unmoved by the Chancellor’s statement despite the unveiling of tax rises, spending cuts and a forecast of a seven per cent reduction in living standards.
The FTSE 100, which fell as low as 7294 in the immediate aftermath of the Chancellor’s speech, had rallied by close of play on Thursday – finishing at around 0.064 per cent down on the day, standing at 7346.43.
The pound faired quite well, with sterling initially falling more than one per cent down against the dollar but it had returned to around the 1.19 dollar mark by Thursday night – roughly the position it was in at the start of the day. The pound started Thursday at 1.15 euros but had fallen slightly to 1.14 euros by the end of the day.