THE COUNCIL has revealed its financial plan for the new year.

Some of the most notable changes will be seen in council tax increases and rises in car parking charges.

The increases reflect the impact the Covid-19 pandemic had on several Oxford City Council’s main streams of income – the total financial impact on the council, between 2020 and 2026, is forecasted to be £23 million.

It has now announced its proposed budget for 2022/2023 as well as its financial strategy for the next four years.

Council tax rises in city:

  • The budget for 2022/23 proposes a Council Tax increase of 1.99 per cent.
  • a Band D Council Tax charge equates to £6.37 per annum bringing a total charge of £326.54 per annum to fund Oxford City Council
  • Council tax also funds Oxfordshire County Council, Thames Valley Police, the Crime Commissioner and parish councils in areas such as Blackbird Leys and Old Marston
  • Despite the council tax rise, it said it will still protect those on the lowest income

Parking charges rise in city:

  • Parking charges in the city centre will increase by 50p per hour
  • In suburban car parks the price will increase by 20p per hour
  • But charges in Oxford’s five Park & Rides will be frozen
  • The rise in charges comes as the revenues from the council’s car parks was down by £1.5 million over the pandemic
  • The council relies on car parks and commercial premises as its core income streams

Cuts to community grants:

  • The council has had to make a 200k reduction in its £1.7 million community grant funding budget from 2022-23
  • Despite the cuts, the council has said it will still seek to support organisations more efficiently and access alternative funding streams

Improvements to community centres:

  • The council plans to refurbish or rebuild three community centres
  • These are the Blackbird Leys Community Centre, the Bullingdon Community Centre and the East Oxford Community Centre

How has the council spent money throughout the pandemic?

  • £1 million has been distributed to support vulnerable houses
  • £132 million to help impacted businesses
  • £8.6 million over the past years to house and support rough sleepers

How has central Government helped?

  • The Government has provided around £11 million of financial support to the council to help day-to-day service delivery
  • A further £4 million will be provided by the government to support residents and businesses impacted by the pandemic
  • However, due to funding shortfalls, the council has had to draw on £11.3 million of its £22 million of accessible reserves

The council has also planned a medium-term financial strategy to deliver between 2022 and 2026.

Proposals for the medium-term strategy include:

  • £20 million being used for regeneration property in the city
  • £9 million for refurbishment of properties at Cave Street for lettings to small businesses for offices and studio units
  • £6 million of the Housing Infrastructure Fund to support the delivery of development at Osney Mead, by contributing to the Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme and walking and cycling improvements
  • £6 million of the Oxfordshire Growth grant to fund construction of Osney Bridge
  • Continue to fund its Youth Ambition programme
  • Continue to provide £1.5 million of grants to local community groups and charities
  • Oxford City Housing Limited, the council’s housing provider, seeks to build 1,100 new council houses over the next decade
  • £51 million of planned maintenance, refurbishments and estate improvements to the existing stock of 7,664 council houses over the next four years
  • 22 units at Alice Smith House to be used for the hosing of homeless families
  • Completion of the £14 million programme of decarbonisation works across the Council’s leisure centres
  • £2 million investment in the Ray Valley solar farm
  • £8.7 million over the next four years to improve the energy efficiency of council homes that need it the most