Council makes pledge to invest despite cuts

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Oxfordshire County Council has pledged to invest more in business despite having to tighten purse strings to the tune of £73 million between now and 2017.

An extra £100,000 was set aside to boost economic growth at the county hall budget meeting on Tuesday.

Saving plans also include projects to support older people in their own homes to stop them having to go into care.

Councillor Ian Hudspeth, leader of Oxfordshire County Council (OCC), said: “We have balanced the need to protect the most needy and vulnerable in the county with our ambition to see Oxfordshire continue to thrive through hard work and economic growth.

“As part of our commitment to economic growth, we have allocated an additional fund of £100,000 for the next three years to increase the county council’s capacity to pursue growth opportunities with our partners in the public and private sector.”

Councillor Arash Fatemian, lead member for adult services, said: “Although these are challenging times the county council has been investing between £4 million and £5 million extra every year in adult social care in response to rising demographic pressures.

“This means that the amount of money we spend on adult social care is not going down despite the need to make savings from the adult services area.”

OCC has set a 1.99 per cent council tax rise, meaning the average Band D rate will be £1,184.83 for 2013/14, an annual increase of £23.12 – or 44p per week. The increase comes as the council plans to make £73 million in savings from now until 2017 following a 
12 per cent cut in central government funding.

The council says it is on course to have saved £92 million between April 2011 and March this year.

The new plans will come into force from April 1.

Cherwell District Council is also due to agree its budget on Monday.

The district faces a £412,000 cut in government grant funding, a drop of 5.4 per cent.

A significant reorganisation of departments including environmental and community services has allowed the council to shave more than £1.27 million off the forthcoming budget.

The district council is proposing its portion of the council tax bill should be £123.50 a year for Band D homes, the same as this financial year.

Cherwell District Council says it will be the fourth year council tax has been frozen.

The council says the economic climate presents “unprecedented challenges”
in meeting spending priorities without burdening taxpayers.