Council leaders in Stoke-on-Trent have launched a draft plan to tackle inequality and improve the wellbeing of people living in the city. It’s their response to figures produced by the Centre for Health and Development (using their 2020 health profile for the city) which place Stoke-on-Trent among the 20% most deprived districts in England.
The cost of austerity
Dealing with the consequences of inequalities and a decade of central government austerity policies has placed severe financial strains on the finances of the city as it has on many other cities.
Life expectancy in Stoke is lower for both men and women living in the city, by 8.2 years and 7.2 years respectively below the national average. There are also higher rates of smoking and alcohol misuse and higher rates of childhood obesity.
The new scheme therefore sets out how the council plans to work with communities, businesses and public services, such as the NHS, to improve wellbeing. It also recognises the pressures created by high demand and shrinking budgets and is concerned in case it finds itself in a position where it may have to declare a Section 114 notice, effectively declaring itself bankrupt at some stage in the future.
What is the strategy?
The new strategy will focus on “supporting family life and tackling anti-social behaviour”, as well as “addressing hardship and supporting residents to live independently”.
Council leader Jane Ashworth said: “This corporate strategy sets out the council’s vision and priorities for the next four years, based on our assessment of the main challenges and opportunities that we expect to deal with during this time”.
The ‘Our City Our Wellbeing’ strategy replaces the Stronger Together Strategic Vision developed by the previous administration in 2019 and concentrates on six key themes. These are: making the city fairer, wealthier, safer, greener, cleaner, and healthier by 2028.
This would be done through allowing the council to work with partners to address the “issues facing our city, rather than delivering support services that respond to problems that have already happened”.
Recognising the financial constraints faced by the council, she added: “What is not in our gift is the spiralling costs and rising demographic pressures of social care and this leaves us in a challenging financial position”.
Her administration was, she said, continuing to have an open dialogue with the government about getting the right “support to help our great city grow”.
The consultation on the strategy runs from 7 December until 28 February. Find out more and get involved on the Stoke-on-Trent council website.