Households are set to be hammered by a council tax rise of almost five per cent next year.

Oxfordshire County Council has revealed planned savings and investments it will bring in from 2022 to meet “current and future financial challenges.”

It hopes to generate income through a council tax rise which works out at around £80 a year for the average Band D home.

Read more: Homeowners in town near Wantage to benefit from new sewage treatment plant

Liz Leffman, Leader of the Liberal Democrat, Labour and Green-controlled county council, acknowledged the rise would "put additional strain on household finances at a very challenging time", but added: “Without funding from government to meet the rising costs of providing adult social care, we are left with no choice but to raise these funds to make sure we can provide social care for some of our most vulnerable residents.”

It is considering putting up rates in car parks from April and although there are no plans to increase charges at park and rides, it is planning increases on pay and display in the city.

More CCTV will be installed and drivers fined for using bus lanes or blocking yellow box junctions to raise cash.

Budget proposals include just over £4m being put into adult social care, plus over £1m extra to support children in care as Covid-19 has led to more children being in care placements than expected and for longer periods of time.

Ms Leffman said: “Following the local elections in May, the Oxfordshire Fair Deal Alliance formed to lead the county council. Our vision is to lead positive change to make Oxfordshire a greener, fairer county.

"We have developed nine priorities to deliver this aim. These include putting action to address the climate emergency at the heart of our work, tackling inequalities and supporting carers and the social care system.

"We have looked for ways to support these priorities in this, our first budget. We are committed to the responsible management of the council’s finances.

"To reach our goal of a balanced budget for 2022/23, we are planning ahead carefully to meet current and future financial challenges. We are also working on identifying savings across the council to enable us to invest in our priorities and meet our demand pressures.

“Challenges include uncertainty over government funding, the ongoing impact of Covid-19 and an ageing and growing population, which puts more pressure on budgets and services.

“The Government has announced some new grant funding for local government, which includes £8m for Oxfordshire County Council", but the authority says the ‘detail of what funding we will receive remains unclear.’

She added: “Protecting those in need will always be our priority. Budget pressures mean we will have to continue to find ways to save money while protecting frontline services – moving services online, where appropriate, and generating more income.”

The council needs £21m of new funding for 2022/23 and plans to make £13m of savings.

More key investments include £824,000 in 2022/23 for climate action and resilience measures, including investing in supporting the retrofitting of residential homes to improve energy efficiency and supporting a zero-carbon future. It aims to expand EV charging capacity across the county.

But Eddie Reeves leader of the Opposition Conservative and Independent Alliance Group said: “The Chancellor’s Budget saw record inward investment in local government – the most in over a decade – yet residents are now facing an inflation-busting Council Tax rise of five per cent.

“The council’s own press release recognises that Government investment allows councillors to improve local services. Despite this – and healthy reserves left by us – left-wing councillors are now looking to extract the most they can from households without putting their plans to a local referendum.

“We will wait to see more of the detail, but early indications are that they want to spend over £800,000 on tree-planting schemes and greening a minority of residential homes.

"They also seem bent on extracting more money still from motorists via ANPR cameras and higher parking charges. All told, it is hard to see how many residents will benefit from such largesse. Local Conservatives would focus on protecting the vulnerable and delivering value for money before tax hikes.”

A public consultation is running until January 5 at The council will officially set its budget in February.


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