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The battle for Staffordshire

AtkinsCllr Philip Atkins, the Leader of Staffordshire County Council, is proud of what has been achieved in his county over the last four years

Conservatives at Staffordshire County Council have brought about much change since they took control in 2009 with a long roll call of achievement

Conservative controlled Staffordshire County Council has done its fair share towards the national finances by saving £133m over the past four years while still delivering valued services to its residents in innovative ways with the lowest county council tax in the country.

These tough times called for decisive leadership, bold thinking and the courage to act in the best interests of the people of Staffordshire. We took on that challenge, looking for new and innovative ways to work to deliver value for money and excellent services for the people of Staffordshire.

For the future we face three key challenges across Staffordshire: creating more jobs and stimulating economic growth, ensuring our organisations are as efficient, innovative and effective as possible, and working together across the public and private sectors to combine knowledge, expertise and financial power to make a real difference in our communities.

By freezing council tax and transforming the authority after 28 years of Labour inaction, Conservatives have recognised that people work hard to earn their money and the county council should work hard to help them keep it and to plan ahead. Families in Staffordshire can depend on Conservatives to deliver more for less. We are committed to do this and have delivered the lowest county council tax in the country at £1027.25 for a Band D property.

We have also worked hard to make sure residents voices are heard through Engaging Communities Staffordshire, which has already proven itself as a consumer champion. There is a huge opportunity for ECS to build on its success by delivering a robust, dynamic and effective Health watch for all the people across Staffordshire ensuring the Patient’s Voice is heard in the provision of Health Care.

At the same time we have also helped pump prime our local economy by investment in infrastructure at sites such as I54 South Staffordshire, attracting a £355m Jaguar Land Rover investment in a new engine plant creating 750 jobs with a further 700 jobs in a recently announced extension.

Staffordshire has recently done a deal with Capita to establish a joint venture education support service company, created the largest Integrated Health Trust in the country, and embarked on Tri Councils in a joint initiative with Worcestershire and Shropshire. We have submitted a Wave 2 City Deal with Stoke on Trent and done District Deals to promote ever closer working on the economy.

On top of this we have delivered on a number of achievements by ever closer working with public sector partners while delivering the lowest county council tax in the country with a freeze announced even before the government announced their intentions.

Education Support Services

Staffordshire County Council and Capita have signed a contract officially creating a new joint venture company, which will bring over £50 million of new investment into Staffordshire and safeguard jobs.

The partnership will have its headquarters in the county and provide an extensive package of services from school improvement to catering, ground maintenance and performing arts.

None of this would have happened under Labour.

It will see around 4,000 existing jobs protected and an extra 1,600 jobs created. As part of the deal, the county council will receive a capital payment of nearly £32 million, which will be available to reinvest in a wide range of council projects and services including education, care for the elderly and looking after children in care.

Capita, which have described the deal with the county council to be their ‘biggest to date’ have committed to protect jobs and transfer all existing staff into the joint venture company under TUPE regulations.

This deal represents a massive change in how the public sector can work in a completely different way with the private sector. Instead of outsourcing services directly to a private sector company, we have created a new hybrid model, taking the public sector skills and experience and injecting fresh cash, energy and commercial expertise from the private sector to turn a potential problem into an exciting opportunity.

Capita are hugely excited about the opportunity to help grow a sustainable thriving education business based in Staffordshire and have committed a significant sum of up-front investment which will be used to improve the existing services. It will bring about greater use of technology in education, and improve the existing outdoor education centres as well as creating a flagship new build Academy school in Stafford.

Staffordshire's Health and Social Care services come together in an Integrated Health Trust

This is the biggest integration of its kind in the country and will mean that people will spend less time in hospital and get more treatment at home. Over 1,000 Adult Social Care staff moved over to the NHS to form the UK’s biggest integrated health and social care provider.

The new partnership between Staffordshire County Council and the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent NHS Partnership Trust is delivering easier to understand and efficiently delivered health and social care.

By reducing the inefficiencies which lead to the unnecessary demand on care services; removing duplication and streamlining the delivery of integrated care, the savings are around £30 million every year in costs.

None of this would have happened under Labour.

This is about improving the experience of citizens while making best use of taxpayers’ money. The decision, confirmed by the Department of Health, sees nearly 1,000 social care staff and a budget of £153 million transfer from Staffordshire County Council to the new Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Partnership NHS Trust, creating the largest integrated health and social care organisation in the UK.

It is responsible for all adult social and community healthcare within Staffordshire and all community healthcare in Stoke-on-Trent, delivering everything from physiotherapy to day care opportunities.

We will cut out duplication and reduce confusion for residents, and to ensure more people receive care in their own homes and community rather than in hospital or a residential home, helping people stay independent and in control.

The new arrangements will:

  • Make best use of hospital and community beds
  • Reduce delays in transferring patients from hospital back to their home environment
  • Mean fewer people have to be admitted to hospital in a rush
  • Reduce use of residential care
  • Increase the amount, quality and safety of care delivered in people’s homes.

The planning and operation of the new service was developed over two years between Staffordshire County Council and the NHS in Staffordshire.

It squares the circle between the need to cut public spending and to meet increasing demand for vital services such as adult care. Rather than cut services to reduce costs Staffordshire County Council and Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent NHS Partnership Trust have worked together to design a radical and creative solution that both improves the service to local people and reduces the cost of providing adult social and health care services across Staffordshire.

The decision changes the face of health and social care services in the county, and is a significant step in the journey to join up wider healthcare services and transform the quality of care for patients. The integration will reduce duplication, improve effectiveness and create the professional freedom required to meet care needs in the most efficient way possible. For citizens it will mean less confusion and a faster, smarter, local service on their doorstep.

Tri Councils

The three councils involved are determined they are recognised for the high quality and value of our local services. We believe that in difficult times this means exploring all options, individually and collectively, to ensure that improved outcomes and efficiencies are achieved. The pace of this agenda for change has accelerated and has led to new proposals since the summer of 2011 (when we started) for sharing where it makes sense to do so.

None of this would have happened under Labour.

Greater collaboration will mean that, in future, we will design services once and use many times, jointly commission better services, reduce structural costs and cut overheads to protect frontline services in each of our authorities.

We are looking at many different activities for sharing.

We have started with Economic Growth and Connectivity, Fostering, Adoption and Residential Care, Education services for schools, Information and Communications Technology, and Contract Management and Procurement.

We are already in discussion with other neighbouring councils which may be interested in joining in a successful partnership.

We have four guiding principles for the Tri-Council project:

  • To respond early and pro-actively to austere times by sharing what we do wherever sensible to do so.
  • To meet the performance expectations of our customers by sharing delivery solutions with other sectors.
  • To build on our existing strengths and initiatives and share learning experiences with each other.
  • To concentrate on what we each do best and partner for the rest to improve the commissioning and provision of services.

District Deals

While working with business through our Local Enterprise Partnership and Stoke on Trent City Council on our expression of interest in a City Deal called a Charter for Growth, the county council saw a unique opportunity to translate the principles of the LEP Deal into a series of unique District Deals for the LEP area.

These deals confirm shared priorities and commitments that will help support the aspirations of the District Councils within Staffordshire and accelerate local economic growth by lending the county council’s weight to the wheel of our district council ambitions.

Each deal sets out how the county council will help economic development, transport and infrastructure, cultural work, skills and educational attainment, vulnerable communities and better work together. The Deals are followed up by joint member governance boards that see these aspirations are delivered. None of this would have happened under Labour.

This is our Conservative Record at Staffordshire County Council after just four years of control after an effective opposition in the previous four years, and 28 years of Labour incompetence and waste.

We call it “Lest We Forget”. It’s our Staffordshire Conservative Record of Achievement in just 46 months after 28 years of Labour to deliver the lowest county council tax in the country at £1027.25 for a Band D property.

  • No rise in Council Tax, frozen for three years – eliminated the Labour deficit and saved £133m.
  • Invested extra £50 million into Staffordshire highways network road reconstruction repairing the damage to the transport infrastructure of Labour’s neglect while money was wasted on vanity projects.
  • Transport—extended concessionary free bus travel package to all day/every day for older people and the disabled.
  • Introduced discounted travel for young people. They can travel round the county for just £1 per journey.
  • With a £2m Staffordshire Business Loans Support Fund - helped 70 small businesses, saved 300 and created 120 new jobs.
  • With WiFi in all of our 43 libraries, we have kept them open as community resource centres encouraging more people to use our libraries. No library has closed under the Conservatives.
  • Telecare - help with medicine at home for more than 1,000 residents saving the taxpayer an estimated £3,000 per user.
  • White Paper on Social Care and Health showing how services will develop to encourage more people to live independently for longer.
  • Voluntary sector—adult social care is the service area where we make our major contribution of around £18 million per year, increasing overall funding, targeting smaller community support groups through our innovative Community Wellbeing Fund.
  • Children‘s Services - Families First making an integrated approach with substantial savings and protecting front line services.
  • Tackling problem families and anti social behaviour with a partnership approach.
  • Waste to Energy plant delivering £250m savings by waste to heat management, avoiding the need for landfill of waste.
  • Created the largest Integrated NHS Trust, saving £30m cash to reinvest in the increased demand for care in our communities.
  • Encouraged volunteering and the Big Society initiative by a genuine partnership, positioning volunteering as an essential part of a successful community.
  • Clamped down on intrusive wind farm developments.
  • We have said No to High Speed Rail – but we will work with our communities to make sure their voice is heard.
  • Road safety - Staffordshire is one of the safest Counties in the Country and under the Conservatives was one of the first to introduce 20mph zones outside schools.
  • Winter highway maintenance - we routinely salt over 43% of the county road network compared to 25% nationally.
  • Invested in new Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras to catch criminals on the move.
  • Protected 4,500 jobs in our Education Support Services and secured vital new investment for the future with 1,600 new jobs.
  • Supported a new Rural Academy School and with County farms supporting the future of our rural economy.
  • Invested £3m in the National Memorial Arboretum at Cannock and helped create Mercian Trail for the Staffordshire Hoard brining more visitors to Staffordshire.
  • Our Expression of Interest for a City Deal with our Local Enterprise Partnership has been accepted by government to potentially create 30,000 jobs, increase our GDP by 50% over 10 years engaging major business, both our Universities and all our colleges to support our number one priority, our economy and job creation.

The list of success delivered by a Conservative run council goes on and

You can see we are working with partners at all levels of Local Government, inside and outside our county, to deliver real services to the real people of Staffordshire, because it matters to them.


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