Short term measures help with ‘new’ £23m savings

Councillor Ian Hudspeth, the leader of the county council, said: “The clear message from our budget consultation in the Autumn was that making proposed savings would have a real impact on people and communities.

“We had hoped our original savings options would be a worst-case scenario and that we would not therefore have to go ahead with them all. We are desperately sorry that we now have to consider these extensive savings.

“We will be doing everything we can to help communities manage the impact. It should be remembered that this is our sixth consecutive year of having to make cuts and by 2020 we will have completed a decade of savings.

Short term measures

Cllr Hudspeth added: “We have found a series of short-term measures to buy time to make yet more new savings proposals following full consultation during 2016/17. We will continue to work with communities to reduce the impact of the savings.

“Our approach remains the same. We want to try to protect the most vulnerable people in Oxfordshire – by which we mean those adults who need help with basic personal care and children at risk of abuse or neglect.

“Our approach will also be to manage economic growth in the county and continuing to make the council more efficient.”

The short term measures the council is proposing to use involve:

·         drawing from reserves on a one-off basis

·         bringing some savings proposals originally proposed for future years forward to 2016/17,

·         reducing spending in certain areas on a one-off basis (training budgets, Book Fund in the library service)

·         recalculating various financial assumptions on things such as inflation, council tax income and the overall tax-base

The council has identified further savings or reduced anticipated pressures by more than £1m. Further corporate savings (recalculating financial assumptions etc) of £10m have been identified. This leaves £11m of new savings to be found from 2017/18 onwards.

Council Tax

County councils in England are allowed to raise council tax by up to four per cent before a referendum is required. Two per cent of this is the original limit with a further two per cent on top allowed for spending on adult social care.

However the benefit of this two per cent increase in spend is cancelled out by the fact that central Government has not compensated local government for the estimated costs of the new National Living Wage. This extra two per cent is therefore of no assistance in terms of council services.

The county council is proposing a 3.99 per cent rise in its share of the Council Tax for 2016/17.

More cuts to come

Councillor Hudspeth added: “We will need to take another fresh look at our services to see if there are different ways of working that help us save even more. There will be a lot of debate about this in coming weeks and months and we will consult once more.

“Our temporary measures mean we avoid cash flow problems. They are a short-term solution for one year only and no more, people should be under no illusion about that.”

Notes to editors

·         The council is already in the process of saving £292m from 2010-2018. The new savings come on top of this.

·         In its public consultation, Talking Oxfordshire, the county council identified 95 savings options amounting to £51.6m, which it was hoped would be more than enough to meet the savings target.

·         However in common with county councils across the south, changes to Government funding formulas increased savings required.

·         A total of £5.8m of the £51.6m of options consulted on in the Autumn addressed savings that were still to be identified as part of the £292m.

·         Even taking the full £51.6m of savings before the changes to Government funding formulas, the Council was facing a £1.1m shortfall.

·         The overall new saving is therefore £69m (2016-2020).

·         The overall savings figure from 2010-2020 is £361m