Oxford City Council’s latest 2023/24 budget proposes to fund a wide range of services to help tackle the cost of living crisis.
The budget – which is balanced for the next four years – also funds multi-million-pound investments across Oxford, including new council homes and the rebuilding of East Oxford Community Centre.
Read more: Redevelopment of East Oxford Community Centre ready to begin
This is against the backdrop of unprecedented financial pressures because of inflation and interest rates and the legacy impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on some key income streams.
The budget is currently out to public consultation, and residents have until Tuesday, 31 January, to have their say.
Tackling the cost of living
Oxford City Council is continuing to fund a wide range of services to help those on lower incomes, including:
The City Council provides almost half a million pounds of funding to support Oxford’s community groups and charities, including organisations that provide free and low-cost activities, alongside support and advice, for those on lower incomes.
The City Council has worked with local community groups and charities to provide a network of warm places this winter. The venues offer free and low-cost places to meet, take the children, get support, or have a hot drink or meal.
With housing one of the main contributors to the cost of living, the City Council’s latest budget also proposes to deliver 942 new council houses over the next four years – bringing the City Council’s housing stock up to about 9,000 council homes.
The City Council has also allocated £1.7 million in its 2023/24 Budget to fund homelessness organisations in the city. The grants primarily fund supported accommodation, shower and laundry facilities, food, activities and employment support for those experiencing homelessness.
As part of the latest budget, the City Council also proposes maintaining a 100% Council Tax discount for those on the lowest incomes. The City Council remains one of few councils across the UK to do so. A new council tax hardship fund will also be established.
Oxford residents can find advice and support about the cost of living crisis on the City Council’s dedicated webpage at www.oxford.gov.uk/costofliving.
Investment in Oxford
The budget also proposes multi-million-pound investment in Oxford, including:
When the council invests in this way, it requires contractors to make a wider social contribution, for instance, including payment of the Oxford Living Wage and creating apprenticeships in its evaluation criteria when assessing bids.
Every year, the City Council spends about £100 million to provide public services for the people of Oxford.
Just 19% of the funding comes from council tax, with the remaining coming from fees and charges (22%), commercial property rent (15%), business rates (10%), and income from the City Council’s two companies, ODS and OX Place (28% – and rising) government grant (4%) and interest on investments (2%)
Over the four years of the Medium-Term Financial Plan (MTFP), the new budget proposes £17.9 million of efficiency savings, £6.0 million of income by letting the City Council’s former offices in St Aldate’s, £3.5 million of dividends from ODS, and £13.5 million of dividends from OX Place.
The budget proposes a below-inflation increase in Council Tax of 2.99% for 2023/24. For a Band D property, this equates to £9.76 a year (19p a week), bringing a total charge of £336.31 a year (£6.47 per week) to fund Oxford City Council.
Oxford residents have one week to have their say on the Budget proposals. To take part in the consultation, which closes on Tuesday (31/1), visit the Budget Consultation webpage.
“We know that families across Oxford are struggling with the cost of living crisis. That is why, despite being in an extremely challenging financial situation ourselves, we have continued to fund a wide range of activities to support and help families across the city.
“Help is available if you are struggling with the cost of living. Please visit the ‘cost of living’ pages on our website, where you will find advice and support to help with energy and food costs, alongside a list of venues where you can keep warm this winter.”
—Councillor Ed Turner, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Asset Management