A council tax rise of 2.99% and a five year capital investment programme were approved.
With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting nearly all aspects of the council’s service delivery, the council outlined how its budget will react to the challenges that lay ahead.
The lowest council tax increase in Greater Manchester was approved - a rise of 2.99%. This means people who live in Band A properties – the majority of Oldham’s housing stock – will see a rise of just £2.78 a month to their bills, before Parish Council and Mayoral precepts are added. A council tax reduction scheme will still be in place for those who qualify, with a level of support at 85% of the council tax for a Band A property.
Savings of £8.920m for 2021/22 were approved as the council continues to face long-term Covid-19 cost pressures on its budget. Reduction targets of £31.900m for 2022/23 and £21.849m for 2023/24, were also set as part of the council's Medium Term Financial Strategy.
A five year capital strategy and capital programme highlighted investment of over £341million which is being aimed at helping Oldham’s recovery from the impact of COVID-19. The focus of the spending is through the Creating a Better Place regeneration initiative which not only includes plans to transform the Spindles into a multi-purpose facility as well as the centre of our shopping offer, but also includes investment in new homes, new schools and employment sites.
Where possible, all of the projects will encompass green efficiency measures helping to promote a commitment to making the council and borough carbon neutral before the end of the decade.
Speaking on the budget, Oldham Council Leader Sean Fielding said: “When last year’s budget was set we had no idea of the challenges to come – the scale of demand, the need to rapidly and radically change our spending plans.
“As a council, our response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented. New services were set up overnight to support the most vulnerable, while they shielded at home, delivering food and medicine to those who needed it. But this has come at a significant financial cost, with the process of deciding the budget cuts this year being harder than ever.
“Unfortunately we have no choice but to raise council tax by 2.99%. That’s the lowest increase of any council in Greater Manchester, but I know even a small increase can have a big impact on people’s lives.
“Though difficult decisions like these are having to be made we are still committed to spending council money productively where we can.
“We’re focused on young people, creating new jobs, apprenticeships and opportunities to give them the best start in life.
“We’re also committed to spending on local business wherever possible, and with the purchase of Spindles and other exciting projects like the Egyptian Rooms food hall, we’re in a position to give the Oldham economy a real push as we emerge from lockdown.
“We all want Oldham to be a place where residents feel healthy and supported, where businesses flourish, and where every young person can get a good start.
“This budget, while challenging, sets the stage for the council to work with our partners, and most importantly our residents, to make that vision a reality.”
Councillor Abdul Jabbar, Deputy Leader of Oldham Council and Cabinet member for Finance and Green said: “In the year when the UK is hosting the United Nations Climate conference I am proud to say that we are financing a number of projects that will help to reduce carbon emissions and will meet our carbon neutrality target by 2030.
“This includes both our Northern Roots project and the truly innovative mine water district heating network currently being developed.
“I also welcome the chancellors £15bn Green Bond which will aim to help finance critical projects to tackle climate change and other environmental challenges.”