Council announces budget measures to plug £0.5m funding gap


A council tax rise, bringing rent collection in-house and ending grants to Banbury museum are proposed

A £5 rise in Cherwell District Council’s part of the Council Tax, increasing licencing fees and cutting grants to Banbury Museum are amongst the ideas the Council has had to bridge a £0.5million gap in its funding.

Proposals for the authorities 2023/24 budget have been announced and we’re being asked to let them know what we think.

The Council says that many of the long-term financial issues it faces are set to continue in the coming years.    This includes uncertainty around the government’s plans on resetting business rates and the winding down of the New Homes Bonus – a government grant which currently pays Cherwell £3.5million to incentivise housing growth in the district.

The council is also facing significant inflationary pressures related to the rising cost of living and a loss of income from car parks.

Extra funds will be brought in by increasing the Council’s element of Council Tax by £5 per year for the average Band D property – the maximum amount the government is expected to allow.

Increasing charges for licensing activities will bring in an additional £40,000 and bringing the collection of rent in-house will save £15,000.

Ending grant payments to Banbury Museum and Experience Oxfordshire would save the Council £25,000 annually.

Despite having to make savings the Council says it still intends to invest in the district, including a £4.25million transformation of the Market Square in Bicester and investing £0.5million in green energy to reduce its carbon emissions.

Councillor Barry Wood, Leader of the Council, said: “Despite the financial pressures local councils are facing, we are standing by our vision of high quality public services for a district which is a great place to live, work and prosper.

“I am pleased that alongside some difficult decisions, we have also been able to identify some areas of investment, such as a regeneration project for Bicester town centre. We are also standing by our commitment to helping residents navigate the cost of living crisis and continuing our work to cut our carbon emissions.”

Councillor Adam Nell, Portfolio Holder for Finance, said: “This is a prudent and well-thought out set of budget proposals. The key is to keep local services on a sustainable footing. By making back-office savings in some areas and increasing our income in others we will be able to minimise the impact on our frontline offering to residents.

“In December we will get the detail of the financial settlement from central government for local councils. That may change some of our calculations. But in the meantime, we want as many people as possible to have their say to help inform a budget that reflects our residents’ priorities.”

The council will agree the budget for 2023/24 on 27 February 2023.   A public consultation on the proposals has now begun and runs until December 23.   You can have your say here.

Published: by Banbury FM Newsteam

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