Oxfordshire County Council approves £64m budget savings

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Oxfordshire County Council has approved £64m of budget savings over the next four years by 30 votes to 27.

The Conservative and Independent coalition-run authority will raise its council tax precept by 1.99% over the next two years.

Opposition group amendments were voted down during the five-and-a-half hour meeting at county hall.

Council leader Ian Hudspeth said: "We have to be realistic and realise this is a cutting budget."

A housing support fund, which helps an Oxford charity for the homeless and adult social care, are among the areas which will see a cut in funding.

'Pressure on councils'

The council's savings are in addition to £31m already earmarked for the next two years.

Its proposed savings were reduced by £1.3m earlier this month after it learnt of a £4m higher-than-expected central government grant.

The remaining £2.7m has been invested back into services and includes £800,000 to end a 15-minute limit for personal care visits and £400,000 on flood defences.

"We have tried as best as possible to put money back into services which are a priority for the county council," added Mr Hudspeth.

"But at the end of the day, these cuts have to be made and it's one of those things.

"Since starting work on these proposals in September, the real message has been to try and protect the services the most vulnerable in Oxfordshire really care about."

Labour group leader Liz Brighouse said: "Local government is having to take far too much of the brunt of the financial crisis which was brought about by the bankers and lending too much money.

"Central government needs to find other ways of addressing this rather than putting the pressure on councils."

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