Oxford City Council received an unprecedented number of responses during the recent budget consultation.

Around 300 residents gave their opinions before the deadline on January 31.

Deputy leader councillor Ed Turner called it an exceptionally challenging budget-setting process, given the significant pressures on local government finances.

In response to the consultation, the City Council has made initial changes to the proposed budget and expects to receive modest additional funding.

The Government recently announced that councils across England will be given a £600 million support package to aid the delivery of vital services.

This announcement paves the way for positive changes in Oxford City Council's budget.

It has resulted in a one-time allocation of £240,000 specifically for the City Council.

This funding, along with additional income secured from the proposed contract with new leisure provider Serco, will be allocated to meet community needs and boost services.

The services set to benefit include street cleaning, where a planned cut will now be reduced, and community services, where financial savings will be reduced by £150,000.

This results in an adjusted annual budget saving of £450,000 from 2025/26 onwards.

Funds will also be directed towards the improvement of planters in Frideswide Square and the installation of new paving in Magdalen Wood to improve its accessibility and appearance.

However, the Government's choice not to allow the Council to charge additional council tax for second homes has been seen as a setback.

This decision will result in fewer funds to spend on services.

Oxford Mail: Ed Turner, cabinet member for finance and asset managementEd Turner, cabinet member for finance and asset management (Image: Oxford City Council)

Councillor Ed Turner, cabinet member for finance and asset management, said: "The Council welcomes the additional funding from the Government settlement but we continue to express our concerns about the central government's understanding of the financial challenges faced by local authorities.

"The additional funding is offset by losses from not being able to charge council tax on second homes, as we planned.

"More significantly, the additional income we will receive from the recently announced five-year Serco contract doesn't overcome the need to find savings.

"But it does mean we can reverse the proposed reduction in some street cleansing services and reduce the necessary savings in the communities budget, from an 8 per cent to 6 per cent."

Despite the difficulties, The Council has praised the two-year pay agreement with the two trade unions.

This accord provides planning stability and gives recognition to its workforce.

The Council says it remains "committed to transparent and community-focused decision-making and is continuing to review the responses received during the Budget consultation".

Further alterations may yet be made to the budget.