BUDGET cuts totalling £9.5m could be made to help Oxford City Council balance the books in coming years.

The city council has revealed its draft plans for next year's budget, the first in the wake of the extra costs heaped upon it by the coronavirus pandemic.

As part of its plans for balancing the books, £9.5m of what are described as 'efficiencies' are needed.

But the council's deputy leader and cabinet member for finance, Ed Turner, said frontline services were being protected.

Mr Turner said: "Most people will not notice the change. That is because we have worked really hard not to make cuts in frontline services.

"We are trying our best to support communities: our hub system for instance is continuing, our work with young people in continuing."

ALSO READ: Oxford's Japanese eatery Edamame announces date for reopening

The budget plans are currently in a draft form and need to be discussed by the whole council before they are set in stone.

The £9.5m cuts would largely be made to background services the council offers, and would be spread out over the next five years as part of a medium term financial plan.

The cuts could include going 'cashless' for all payments, estimated to save the council £30,000 per year.

It has currently suspended all cash and cheque payments due to the pandemic, and the change would be made permanent.

Oxford Mail:

Ed Turner

There are also plans to cut back on the number of planning committees, saving £45,000 a year, with one group of councillors deciding the future of major building plans, instead of two separate committees for the east and west halves of Oxford.

The council is also planning to introduce some new charges, including a new charge for getting rid of large bulky waste items, a service which is currently free.

Mr Turner added: "There are areas people will not welcome: people will have to pay a charge if they need to get a large item of wastes disposed of. That will affect people and it is a shame but by and large we are trying really hard to maintain the frontline."

Oxfordshire's other councils are also looking at making cuts

Draft budget papers also predict the council will be able to balance the books because of money coming into its coffers in the future.

The council owns several companies including contracting firm ODS and housing company Oxford City Housing Limited.

It also owns shops in the middle of the city, where it usually charges rent.

All of these businesses have seen their income hit by the pandemic, leaving the council without a steady stream of cash, but are predicted to see a return to better trading in the future.

The budget papers will be discussed at cabinet on Wednesday, December 9.