How should council services be run in Oxfordshire?

The public has been asked for ideas and information by the independent consultants conducting a review of local government in Oxfordshire.

Last week Oxfordshire County Council appointed Grant Thornton UK LLP to consider how local government could be reorganised to reduce costs and protect vital services.

The firm will look to identify the model for local government that provides the best services and value to council tax payers and business rate payers in Oxfordshire, and offers the savings needed to ensure long-term viability.

As part of the review, Grant Thornton is asking the public and key stakeholders such as voluntary groups and public service providers in Oxfordshire and other localities covered by this study. Views can be submitted online here or to the address below.

The submissions can relate to anything relevant to a review of local government structure and public service delivery. In particular, Grant Thornton is looking for views on the following:

  • Service delivery and outcomes: how can council service delivery and outcomes be improved, particularly for the most vulnerable? (A list of the main district and county councils can be found here

  • Cost savings and value for money: long-term financial sustainability is crucial, so how can any changes deliver significant cost savings and drive value for money?

  • Stronger leadership: what changes could provide stronger and more accountable strategic and local leadership?

  • Economic growth and infrastructure: how can we drive economic growth, and meet the challenges we have around infrastructure?

  • Local engagement and empowerment: what new structures do we need to engage with communities and empower local areas?

Any submissions will go directly to Grant Thornton to ensure independence and will not be sent to Oxfordshire County Council. An analysis of survey results will be included in Grant Thornton's final report, but views and information will not be attributed to individuals.

The county council has also convened an independent advisory group to support the review by Grant Thornton, and evidence provided by the public, service users and other stakeholders will help shape their thinking.

Grant Thornton was selected because of its experience of working with a number of councils across the UK currently tackling the same challenges, as well as those that have recently become unitaries. Grant Thornton also has a strong partnership with CIPFA, the public sector accountancy professional body, which provides up-to-date information on local government costs and services.

Our job is to be independent and look at the best models for local government to provide good services and be financially viable in the long term. But what’s best for one area may not be best for another, so it is vitally important that we understand the needs and expectations of service users in Oxfordshire and other localities covered by this study.

We are looking forward to hearing from people who are interested in improving council services, reducing costs and enhancing local accountability.
Guy Clifton, Head of Local Government Advisory at Grant Thornton
The debate about local government reform is well and truly underway in Oxfordshire. Before the county council makes up its mind about the best solution, we want to make sure the public has their say.

Any change has to be in the best interests of service users and the county as a whole, which is why we want to involve the public. Grant Thornton are experts in local government funding and service delivery, but it is the people of Oxfordshire who know what is best for the county.
Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council
Notes to Editors

Notes to editors

You can read the full proposal: A new council for a Better Oxfordshire at: www.betteroxfordshire.org

About the survey 

502 quota controlled interviews of residents aged 16+ were conducted between 5 and 19 February 2017.  To correct for response bias, statistical weighting has been applied to the completed dataset at both a district and county level to ensure that the survey is representative of the entire population aged 16+. 

Overall, the results are statistically reliable to around +/- 5% at the 95% level of confidence. This means that 19 times out of 20 the survey findings will be within 5% points of the result that would have been achieved had everyone in the population been interviewed.

On this basis, whilst the survey identified that overall support in the county is 70%, the actual level of support could be as high as 75% or at the lower end, 65%. 

The survey results for individual districts are subject to wider confidence intervals, but even when taking these into account there remains absolute majority support (with more than 50% agreement) across all districts.

Media enquiries

For all media enquiries about the proposal, please contact:

Emily Reed, Oxfordshire County Council, on 07770 701139 emily.reed@oxfordshire.gov.uk

Patsy Cusworth, South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Council on 01235 422400 patsy.cusworth@southandvale.gov.uk