Budget boost for housing, communities and services proposed

Published: Thursday, 2nd February 2017

A budget to tackle the city’s housing crisis, fund community initiatives, improve services and to retain jobs will be proposed to Oxford City Council’s Executive Board meeting on 9 February.

Cllr Ed Turner, Board Member for Finance and Assets said: “Over the next four years we will continue to ensure that sound financial management will tackle Oxford’s housing crisis, improve frontline services and avoid compulsory redundancies.”

This budget proposal will see an increase in the City Council’s share of Council Tax of 1.99 per cent. This equates to £5.67 a year, meaning that a Band D property will pay Council Tax of £290.19 towards the City Council. It also proposes a reduction of 1 per cent, or £1.06 a week, in social dwelling rents from April in line with legislation. This means a weekly average council home rent of £105.65.

Cllr Turner added: “We plan to increase our share of the Council Tax by less than two per cent, which will still ensure we can maintain the services that the City’s residents expect and deserve. But the City faces a significant financial squeeze. The Revenue Support Grant, the cash that the council receives from the Government, will cease by 1 April 2019 and reductions in the New Homes Bonus will put further financial pressure on the Council.

“This budget will focus on housing. Oxford’s housing crisis gets ever more acute, with average house prices being unaffordable to those on middle or lower incomes. We have included £10 million to invest in homes for homeless families, £1.3 million to build new council bungalows, and loans of up to £61 million for our new housing company. This will be at the forefront of delivering new housing, especially in social rented housing, starting with the new development at Barton.

“There will be over £4 million for community centres in this budget and we will retain our homelessness prevention budget and our funding in areas like advice services and the arts. There will be new one-off funding for “stay and play” sessions and we will invest in schemes to improve cycling as well as match fund a bid to introduce an electric taxi infrastructure in Oxford.

“This budget builds on our ambition not to cut any frontline services. We are proud of our workforce, who have continued to improve our services and who have delivered, and will continue to deliver, excellent support to the City’s residents.

“The City Council is achieving this financially sound budget at a time when the County Council presides over atrocious levels of educational attainment in its primary schools, is slashing support for homeless hostels, and is seriously reducing much-valued services such as children’s centres.”

The budget proposals follow extensive public consultation towards the end of 2016 and start of 2017. The City’s Executive Board will decide on the proposals at its meeting on 9 February. Details here