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Rutland County Council leader is committed to making best use of taxpayers’ money

In announcing funding for local authorities earlier this year, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said that local authorities would be required to: “produce productivity plans setting out how they will improve service performance and reduce wasteful expenditure to ensure every area is making best use of taxpayers’ money”, writes Rutland County Council leader Gale Waller (Ind).

Making best use of taxpayers’ money is something we would all endorse – though I often wonder if Ministers apply this requirement to their own departments.

To ensure we are providing best use of the money we receive here in Rutland, we need first to be clear what we want to spend the money on. Rutland County Council has recently reviewed and refreshed its Corporate Strategy.

Rutland County Council leader Gale Waller
Rutland County Council leader Gale Waller

Only by identifying our strategic direction can we be sure we are focussing our spend and not allowing ourselves to become distracted by the latest idea. Our corporate strategy will guide our planning and focus our efforts on the things that matter and to ensure we are focussed we have identified four priority areas for our strategy.

We have built on Rutland’s previous corporate strategy, which was underpinned by the outcomes of the Future Rutland Conversation – a significant consultation exercise. We are confident, therefore, that the refreshed corporate strategy reflects the priorities of Rutland residents. The four priority areas are, in no particular order, as each is equally important and, indeed, interlinked:

1. Tackling the climate emergency; and our recent flooding issues illustrate how important this is;

2. Building a diverse and sustainable local economy; in the Future Rutland conversation residents told us clearly we need a range of jobs to attract back our young people after university;

3. Supporting the most vulnerable; and

4. Providing good public services.

This strategy was agreed unanimously by Rutland County Council members and can be read on our website at: www.rutland.gov.uk/corporatestrategy.

Having been agreed, detailed delivery plans can now be developed and the outcomes will be monitored through regular performance monitoring. I am therefore confident that Rutland County Council has – with this strategy, a budget mapped against it and a performance monitoring process – the building blocks to prove to Government we have no wasteful expenditure and that our services are delivered as efficiently as possible.

I would also mention that, under the priority of building a diverse and sustainable local economy, Rutland Council’s cabinet agreed, in March, to the publication of an Economic Strategy. This strategy identifies a decline in gross domestic product in Rutland over the last few years, beyond that seen nationally.

It recognises that the average wages of those living and working in Rutland are significantly below the national average, but that with high out-migration for work the average income of Rutland residents overall is higher than the national average. It concludes, therefore, that whilst continuing to support existing businesses the county also needs to attract new, high quality, employment; an aspiration of residents expressed during the Future Rutland conversation.

The economic strategy identifies four themes:

1.New technologies and market industries

2.Productive local businesses

3.Skilled workers in quality jobs

4.Thriving places and communities

Each of these are underpinned by objectives the delivery of which will ensure we have a thriving economy.

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