Oxfordshire’s most vulnerable children would benefit from Council Tax rise
The most vulnerable children in Oxfordshire will benefit from an extra 1% increase in Council Tax as Oxfordshire County Council reaches a key new milestone in its 2018/19 budget setting process.
Central government announced in December that it would allow Councils to raise council tax by an additional 1% primarily to address financial pressures in children’s social care.
Councillor Ian Hudspeth, the leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “We’re pleased that the ability to raise income by an additional 1% allows us to put more money in to children’s social care in addition the revenue raised for adult social care.
“We are seeking to manage demand in children’s social care but the protection of vulnerable people is the county council’s first priority."
Earlier in December the council had proposed a 1.99% Council Tax, with an additional 3% precept for adult social care bringing the total proposed rise to 4.99% the same as last year.
The additional 1% that has now been allowed would mean the total rise for 2018/19 to 5.99% with a proposed 2.99 % rise in 2019/20.
Councils are free to spend the extra 1% on other services and the county council is choosing to prioritise children’s social care with £1.9m extra being put in to this service and a further £1m set aside in contingency funding. Overall this means £8.5m is being added to the budget for children’s social care in 2018/19.
Other changes to proposals since December
Meanwhile a total of £2.9m extra is required over 2018/19 (£1.4m) and 2019/20 (£1.5m) for pay for its staff across all of its services including employees such as librarians, care workers for vulnerable children and adults, highways staff, trading standards, the Registration Service etc. The council is able to fund this from reserves over these two years. This is part of the national pay settlement and is the first pay rise in local government of more than 1 per cent since 2010/11.
Although there are benefits of an additional 1% in Council Tax in 2018/19 and 2019/20 the fact that the money raised will be built into the council’s base budget means there’s cumulatively £7.5m to allocate in the 2020/21 (£3.2m) and 2021/22 (£4.3m) financial years.
Decisions on how that money will be allocated will be made in future budget processes by county councillors based on priorities as they are presenting themselves then.
The council’s cabinet will meet on January 23 to recommend a budget to the annual budget meeting of the county council which takes place on February 13