Council budget savings may not cut so deep as thought

Banbury Cake: Council leader Ian Hudspeth Council leader Ian Hudspeth

CUTS to Oxfordshire County Council’s budget may be less severe than first thought after further details emerged about Government funding.

The council had said it would need to save more than £64m over the next four years in response to a 10 per cent cut in its funding from Whitehall.

But the savings of £64m could be reduced by £2.6m after further details of how much the authority will actually receive from central Government were revealed.

However, the reduction may be wiped out by potential changes to a cap on council tax rises.

The budgeted savings were based on the assumption that council tax rises would be capped to below two per cent in 2014/15 and 2015/16, but council bosses say the Government has hinted the cap might be lowered.

Council leader Ian Hudspeth, pictured, said: “The local government settlement provides a mixed picture for the county council. We appear to have a little bit more money than we expected from government grants.

“At the same time, government has hinted that the council tax referendum limit may get tighter.

“We are working on the assumption that we need to make the same level of savings in the budget proposals published recently.

“We are doing everything we can to get the best deal we can for Oxfordshire, and reduce the savings we have to make so we can focus on frontline services.

“This will be a fluctuating and evolving picture.

“Local government settlement day gives us a lot of the information we need to set a budget but it is inevitable that there will be yet more change between now and February.

“We can only hope any future change will be to our advantage.”

Among the potential savings announced by the council is a £7.1m cut to adult social care funding, more than £6m from the children, education and families department and a £1.5m cut to highway maintenance schemes.

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Grants to advice organisations and cultural services will also be cut, and concerns about the future of certain services like the Rose Hill and Donnington Advice Centre have been raised.

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