This year sees no let-up in the budget challenges that councils across the country are facing as the Government’s austerity policy bears down on local authority funding.
The City Council has lost almost half its government support grant since 2010; it will fall by a further £1.5 million between this year and March 2019 when it will be completely abolished.
The City Council has managed to adjust its budget to these big reductions through efficiency savings and by increasing our income, and we have done this without cutting any of the services we provide or making staff redundant. By careful budget management we have been able to continue to invest heavily in the city, with ambitious regeneration programmes for Barton, Blackbird Leys, Oxpens and the modernisation of the tower blocks. We have set up a new housing company that will provide much-needed affordable housing across the city. And we have been successful in selling our services to outside organisations, bringing in substantial new income for the Council.
The basic amount of Council Tax for a band D property next year for City Council services will be £290.19 - an increase of only 11 pence a week, or 1.99 per cent on last year. It means that City Council services will cost just £5.57 pence a week in 2017/18.
Oxfordshire County Council’s Band D Council Tax bill next year will be £1,345.59, including a three per cent increase to fund the costs of social care. The Police and Crime Commissioner (Thames Valley) has increased their Band D charge by 1.99%. The City Council collects these charges on behalf of the County Council and the police authority as part of your Council Tax bill, but does not control their levels.
The city continues to face major challenges on housing availability and affordability, but the solutions to these problems do not lie entirely in our hands. We will continue to improve the homes that we own, with increased levels of energy efficiency and modernisation, and we will continue to fund homelessness prevention at well over £1 million a year. This has an increased importance in the wake of the County Council’s drastic cuts to funding for homeless people. We are also committed to maintaining the £1.5 million budget that supports the voluntary and community organisations across the city that provide so many valuable services to residents.
Our efficiency savings and increased income amount to over £13.7million, and a further £5 million has been included in our four- year forward budget. They will enable us to continue to maintain our services to the people of Oxford, avoid staff losses, and maintain a major programme of investment in the city.
The City Council’s website provides more details about our services and information about the city. If you have any queries, please contact us.
Councillor Bob Price, Leader of Oxford City Council.