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Published: Thursday, 13th February 2020

On Monday night Oldham Council’s Cabinet met to approve its budget for the coming year.

The Cabinet approved an increase of 2.99 per cent in Council Tax to protect local services, despite significant pressure on its budgets. This is the lowest increase in Council Tax since 2015 and two per cent of this increase is for funding Adult Social Care.

The budget will now go to annual Full Council (Budget) meeting on 26 February for final approval.

Since 2010 the council has been forced to remove over £215 million from its budget, and yet because of Government funding reductions and significant budget pressures, it will have to further reduce its spending over the next few years.

While council tax could be increased by up to four per cent without a public referendum, councillors have recognised the financial strain many Oldham residents face and have taken the decision to not do this.

It means people who live in Band A properties – the majority of Oldham’s housing stock – will see a rise of just £2.70 a month to their bills, before Parish Council and Mayoral precepts are added.

The most significant budget pressure continues to be Adult Social Care. Demand for care and how to pay for it is a national issue and the council urgently awaits a promised new approach for funding to be set out by Government. While it waits for this change, a two percent increase in the Adult Social Care precept is required. This is in line with what the Government expects Oldham to raise through Council Tax to spend on this important care service.

The council is conducting a further efficiency drive to manage the £3 million cuts it has approved while protecting front line services. The council will also use £10m of its reserves, as a planned approach to allow time for new ways of working that improve efficiency to be embedded.

The council also collects Council Tax on behalf of the Mayor of Greater Manchester, plus Parish Councils for Shaw and Crompton, and Saddleworth. Their shares of residents’ final bills – known as precepts – will decide the final level of Council Tax when it is set in February.

The Cabinet also considered the Capital Strategy and Programme which covers the period up to 2024/25.  This not only reflects the investment being made in regeneration and housing through the Creating a Better Place strategy, but also in projects such as new schools, transport infrastructure and those which reflect the Council commitment to the green agenda.

Councillor Abdul Jabbar MBE, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Corporate Services, said: “We understand that many Oldham residents face a daily challenge to balance their own budgets. Similarly, Oldham Council faces its own financial challenges and balancing the resources available with the demands for spending whilst investing in the future and protecting local services gets harder each year.

“This year we have managed to maintain spending on services for local people by making savings from back office functions. We will only make savings in how the Council operates and by investing in new ways of working.

“Failure by the Government to address the rising demand and costs for Adult Social Care is a major national crisis that causes real financial pressures here in Oldham. We cannot say when the Government will address this problem but, in the meantime, we must continue to adequately fund this important service. 

“We have a bold ambition to invest in the borough.  We want good schools, thriving local town centres, better local housing and to promote the green agenda. This budget supports our ambition and these priorities will create a brighter future for Oldham.”

 

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