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Tough times alert as £8.3m of new cuts are announced
THE man in charge of Oxford’s finances has warned of difficult times ahead after he unveiled £8.3m of extra savings.
Oxford City Council has revealed it will have to save an extra £1.8m in 2015/16 and a further £6.5m in 2016/17 after Chancellor George Osborne announced local government funding would be slashed by 10 per cent.
The authority has already saved £12m since 2008, and had committed to saving a further £5.4m by 2017.
It comes after Oxfordshire County Council admitted it could face extra savings of £60m on top of cuts of £200m already made or planned.
Earlier this month the Oxford Mail revealed that frontline services could be affected as the county council revealed its total savings could hit £260m with leader Ian Hudspeth admitting “breathtaking” amounts would “test it to the limit”.
City council executive board member for finance Ed Turner has admitted there were challenges ahead.
He said: “The next few years will be challenging but not impossible but after that it’s going to get very difficult.
“I wouldn’t want to talk about the axe falling, and our priority is to safeguard frontline services, particularly for the more vulnerable in the city, and avoid redundancies.
“This is a difficult set of challenges, but it just means we’re going to have to redouble our efforts to find substantial savings wherever we can.
“We also have to hope the economy picks up and the new housing coming on stream has an impact.”
Mr Turner said the city council had planned for future cuts by budgeting for a one per cent council tax rise, while a large chunk of extra savings at County Hall are needed as a result of plans to raise tax by 3.75 per cent which were dashed by a two per cent cap by the Government.
He said: “Admittedly we have been a little more cautious than the county council in this regard.”
He added that a transfer of assets from the council’s housing revenue account, which looks after the city’s council housing stock, would make £1.3m towards the first round of savings, but he said the remaining £500,000 in 2015/16 and the £6.5m the following year would have to be found in savings or income.
The announcement has sparked concerns from residents.
East Oxford resident Sarah Lasenby said: “I’m fed up with the present Government continuing to implement its ideology, in particular, taking everything out of public management.
“I am very worried about how these cuts will affect services. Maybe our bins will be collected every three weeks instead of two. Maybe we will have more potholes in our smaller roads.
“They may turn the lights out earlier and we shall all get mugged.”
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