Oxfordshire County Council response to announcement of local government funding
Government today (15/12/16) announced the annual budget settlement for councils
Councils can raise the Council Tax precept to 3% for social care for the next two years only
For the county council, that means no increase above its existing three-year plan
Part of new homes bonus fund paid to district councils has been allocated to social care
Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said:
“In today’s announcement, the government sent councils a very clear message that we will need to pay our own way, by reducing our costs and raising more of our funding through council tax and business rates. We can do this in Oxfordshire, but only if we cut the cost of running six councils.
The pressure on social services will be partly addressed by giving some of the money paid to the district councils for building new homes to adult care, but this simply swaps money between budgets within Oxfordshire councils. We need to study the detail but this is not new money.
The county council has already taken difficult decisions that mean we are on a relatively solid financial footing. But we still face difficult decisions, including whether to raise council tax next year by the additional one per cent announced by the government. The council will be thinking hard about whether to do this, and are keen to hear views as part of our budget consultation.
The real story is the need for local government as a whole in Oxfordshire to save money to protect frontline services. I am convinced this can only be done by creating a single council for Oxfordshire that avoids costly duplication of bureaucracy, which council tax payers can ill-afford.
The county council will shortly publish proposals for a single unitary council for Oxfordshire that would save £100m over five years to protect services. We will continue to work with the district councils on a devolution bid to secure investment in infrastructure, but today’s announcement shows we cannot afford to turn our back on £100m to protect public services.”