Big spending cuts approved

Plans to put average yearly council tax bills up in Oxfordshire and cut 500 County Council jobs have been approved.

Oxfordshire County Council say they're having to make cuts of more than £100m over the next five years because of a predicted drop in the amount of money they get from the government.  Councils across the country are expecting to get less, because the government is more than £800bn in debt.

The Council say more than £72m of the money saved will be reinvested into services.  The cost burden on the council is changing because of things like people getting older, which means more money will have to be spent on their care in coming years.

The 500 County Council jobs are expected to be lost by 2015 by not replacing people who leave.  The County Council are hoping to avoid the need to make people redundant.

The average yearly Band D council tax bill is due to rise by £31.09 from April 2010, taking the County Council element of it to just over £1,160.  That doesn't include the amount we pay to the police and fire services.

County Council Leader Keith Mitchell said: "The current scale of Government debt is frightening and local government is sure to have to deal with the consequences of a situation that is not of its making in future years.

"We know that the Government will seek to balance its books and we know that local Government will sooner or later have to shoulder a large portion of that burden. It would be wrong of us to pretend otherwise and then be hit with the shock of reality at some stage between 2010 and 2015.

"I feel it is important to point out that there is nothing wrong with the county council's finances. However there soon would be something wrong with them if we failed to plan ahead responsibly for what is obviously going to be a difficult five years for everyone in local government as Whitehall tries to clear its debts."

Where will money be saved?

  • increasing residents' parking permits in Oxford by £10 to £50
  • cutting the subsidy on concessionary school bus fares
  • increasing on-street parking charges so they match up with off-street ones
  • streamlining the way the County Council works
  • freezing councillors' allowances
  • cutting the amount spent on council-owned buildings and offices
  • switching off more street lighting at night (between 12.30am and 5.30am) saving money and carbon

Where will extra money be spent?

  • delivering the government's scheme to deliver free personal care at home for those who need it
  • increased spending on social care to help older people as all of us live longer
  • increased spending to help people with learning disabilities and children with complex learning needs
  • on cutting the risk of roads flooding in bad weather

Because schools are directly funded by the government, the money given to schools will be unaffected by the budget changes agreed by Oxfordshire County Council.

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