Response to Cherwell District Council scare stories on children’s services

Oxfordshire County Council has responded to information put out by Cherwell District Council on children’s services in the context of the current debate on the future of local government in the county.

The county council provides 80 per cent of the services to residents in Cherwell already. This includes children’s social care – and the county council is one of the few councils in England to be rated “good” by Ofsted for this service.

Like many other councils that run social services (county councils all over England, unitary councils and Metropolitan councils), Oxfordshire County Council has had to make some difficult decisions as a result of reducing government funding and rising demand for children’s and adult social care. It is worrying that Cllr Wood and his colleagues at Cherwell seem to have little concept of this national situation.

Having one new council for Oxfordshire instead of six would save more than £100m over five years – the equivalent of £400,000 per week. The new council would have the option of directing this money to frontline services such as children’s services.

The ‘no change’ option for local government in Oxfordshire does not exist. The choice is between change that pays for public services and change that pays to run six councils.

Running six councils is wasteful and inefficient. That £400,000 per week of money saved could be spent on frontline services and keeping council tax down, not council bureaucracy.

Next week the county council’s cabinet is recommended to approve grant funding to another group of communities who wish to take on the running of children’s centres. It is an ever growing group of children’s centres that will not close.