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Budget process

Paying for local government services

Local government spending amounts to about 27% of all public spending. Local authorities spend the majority of this on providing schools, social services and maintaining roads, but they also provide many other services.

Local government spending pays for many different types of local authority. These include county councils, district councils, London and Metropolitan authorities, and police and fire services.

Overall, local government spending is paid for by:

  • Specific grants from central government to support its priorities (dedicated schools grant, higher level stewardship grant)
  • Revenue support grant - a general government grant to support county council spending
  • Council tax - collected from local residents based upon the value of the property they live in
  • Business rates - a proportion of income received from businesses based upon the value of the premises from which they operate.

Annual budget and financial planning

A local council cannot finalise its budget plans until it knows:

  • how much it needs to spend on maintaining its services to an acceptable level
  • the additional spending pressures it has for service developments, price increases and pay awards
  • the level of savings it can achieve
  • how much it will receive from central government.

When a local council knows these sums, it can calculate the amount it needs to collect from council tax.

At Staffordshire County Council, our process for setting our budget typically starts at least six months beforehand, and budgets are considered over a five year planning cycle.

Because much information is unknown at the time, these figures provide only an indication of how much future funding will become available.

Senior staff and members consider spending pressures in the previous Autumn. Cabinet then sets out initial guidelines in December/January when our provisional Government grant figures are received. Plans are refined in the new year, and the full budget is finally approved by Cabinet in February, and approved by the full County Council in the same month.Meetings about the budget

Our Cabinet and full council meetings are webcast and agenda, minutes and reports are available on-line.

Statement of accounts

We are legally required to produce an annual statement of accounts by 31 May immediately following the end of the financial year. This shows income and expenditure, assets and liabilities and remuneration of senior officers. It is approved by the audit and standards committee and published on our website by 31 July each year.

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