A 'CLIFF-edge' which could have led a council to have no money has been delayed for four years.

Vale of White Horse District Council approved its budget for the 2020/21 financial year at a meeting on Wednesday night.

The council heard that a balanced budget was possible for the next four years, through £500,000 cuts to various council services.

At the same time the council has committed money to tackling the climate crisis, providing tax cuts for the vulnerable, and rewriting its local plan to make it more environmentally friendly.

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To pay for it all, the council will need £10,091,272, or the equivalent of an extra £136.69 from every band D household in the Vale.

The council changed hands from a Tory-majority to a Lib Dem majority in local elections last May.

At the meeting, cabinet member for finance, Andy Crawford said: "We were under no illusions we had inherited a very serious financial situation and it would fall to us to resolve it."

He added that the previous Conservative administration had used £1.8 million in reserves to balance the council budget in previous years.

But the council will still face a funding gap of more than £6 million as of 2024/25.

The council has previously said the government cutting its grant to the council from £7.1 million to nothing between 2011 and 2019 has contributed to this, as well as the end of the New Homes Bonus scheme

A report presented to the council ahead of the meeting explained the medium-term financial situation.

It said: "Whilst, based on current assumptions and estimates, the council can set a balanced budget for the first four years of the [medium term financial plan] period by drawing heavily on reserves, on current projections this is not possible for the fifth year."

The council's Lib Dem leader Emily Smith said: "As a brand new administration with lots of progressive ideas to make life better for people in the Vale we are facing a financial cliff edge in four years, so putting together this budget was a difficult and sometimes depressing process."

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She added: "By making cuts and finding ways to increase our income in this financial year we are finding a way to delay the cliff edge while at the same time finding funding for the climate emergency.

"We have a long way to get this council's finance where they need to be but this budget is an excellent state."

But Conservative opposition leader Simon Howell said the budget failed to meet the promises the Lib Dems had made during the election campaign.

He added he realised it was difficult period for local government finances, but disagreed with a decision to use council reserves to delay the deficit.

The cuts proposed by the council come from reductions in funding to a lot of different services.

This includes reducing money paid to the Beacon Arts centre in Wantage and reducing printing costs.