Published: Tuesday, 14th February 2023

Councillors have been given further updates on the local authority’s budget plans for the coming financial year.

Cabinet was told more details about how more than £29m of savings will be found.

For the last few months members and council staff have been working hard to balance the books – despite facing added pressures, such as rising fuel costs, the cost-of-living crisis and a greater demand for services, mainly in the areas of adults and children’s social care.

At the same time the local authority also needs to ensure it can invest in regeneration schemes, such as the town centre redevelopment, which will help create jobs and boost the local economy.

All this is on top of a decade of Government austerity, which has seen the council forced to make more than £200m of savings. The results have meant several services have been being scaled back or lost.

Despite years of sound financial management tough decision have been made to bridge the funding gap we face. More will be needed the year after as it looks like the council will have to find another £10.3m of savings in 2024/25.

As part of the proposals for this year Council Tax is set to increase by 3.99 per cent - which is less than the 4.99 per cent most councils are raising it by and lower than the Government expect us to put it up.

This means the average Oldham household will pay around 92p extra a week to safeguard essential services we all rely on, such as collecting bins, caring for our most vulnerable people, and keeping the streets clean.

This year’s budget will be good news for some of the lowest-paid workers in the borough, including hard working carers, as we are supporting a rise in the Real Living Wage from £9.90 to £10.90.

This pay increase will mean more money in the pockets of people such as paid carers, who work hard looking after the most vulnerable people in our communities.

The report to the meeting also outlined how as part of this year’s budget, councillors will consider proposals such as ceasing charges for pest control services and changing back office functions to make services more efficient.

Councillor Amanda Chadderton, Leader of Oldham Council, said: “Despite all these cuts and lack of funding we still need to protect and carry on delivering vital services we know you all rely on.

“That’s why we are putting almost £15m into improving children’s social care; tackling the cost-of-living crisis head-on with one of the country’s biggest support packages for those who need our help; and delivering developments that will boost the local economy, create jobs and support businesses.” 

“It’s been really hard and there will be more cuts to come but we’ll deliver a balanced budget.

“We are looking to raise council tax, even though it is the last thing we wanted to do as we know the cost-of-living crisis is affecting many Oldhamers. We’ve had to do it to fill the hole in our budget left by years of cuts in government funding. 

“We’ll use the extra money raised to support those who are struggling and to boost social care. Increased support for social care will also help relieve pressure on the NHS.”

As part of our budget preparation, we also asked residents and businesses to get involved and send in ideas of how we could save money.

Our budget consultation, which closed last Friday, received 223 responses from the public. More people also got in touch via social media.

Common themes that were brought up included keeping Oldham clean and tidy, looking after the vulnerable, changing the way the council works and improving the town centre – all of which the council is proposing as part of our budget plans.

Councillor Abdul Jabbar, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Low Carbon, said: “We’d like to thank everyone who took part in the budget consultation.

“Your views do matter to us and have been taken on board.

“What has come across confirms just how many of you care about the borough and want to work with us to create a better place to live, work and visit.

“Over the coming days we’ll look at the feedback in depth and it’ll help us form our final budget plans that will be presented to Budget Council on March 1 for approval.”

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