Cllr Liam Walker
Investment for frontline service as county council sets annual budget
New investments and high levels of protection for frontline services are the chief features of the budget that Oxfordshire County Council has today (February 9) set for 2021/22 and beyond.
All 63 county councillors met to debate the budget. Details of savings and investments were published in December.
The council is dedicated to investing in services that will have positive long-term impact for local communities. The budget reflects this, with more than £25m of additional funding included. Some of this funding has been previously agreed, but £9.5m of this is new for 2021/22 to help meet additional demands, including within adult social care.
A total of £19.6m of savings will also take place in total across all services although £14.6m of these savings were already planned and are centred on the transformation of services to make them more efficient while protecting the frontline.
Council Tax proposals
A 1.99 per cent rise in basic council tax will take place from April plus an extra one per cent which would be required to be spent on adult social care under national rules, making a total of 2.99%.
Protecting and investing in frontline services
Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “Protecting and investing in frontline services is our priority as well as seeking to become ever more efficient as an organisation while providing high-quality key services during the pandemic and beyond. I believe we have achieved those aims in setting this budget.
“Our decisions on Council Tax will allow us to make small investments into key priority areas, such as our youth offer. However, given the level of uncertainties, including around COVID-19, we will continue to take the cautious and measured approach towards managing our budgets that has served us so well over many years.
“We are very conscious that the need for extra funding has to be balanced against the pressures on residents' incomes during the pandemic. This is not an easy time financially, or otherwise, for businesses, residents and families.”
Councillor David Bartholomew, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance, added: “The Government’s rules allow for an extra three per cent council tax rise for adult social care on top of the basic council tax. However we recognise that over recent months the hard hand of COVID has squeezed residents’ household budgets. We have therefore levied just one per cent of the adult social care precept, which leaves us able to plan on the basis of levying the remaining two per cent for the 2022/23 financial year, if needed.
“That is the approach we will always take to setting our budget. Whether dealing with the effects of a pandemic or otherwise, we have a responsibility to manage the money our local taxpayers contribute to our budgets in a careful and measured way while protecting the frontline services they value and investing in them wisely.”