William Eichler 19 January 2017

Proposed Oxfordshire unitary authority to save county £100m

Proposed Oxfordshire unitary authority to save county £100m image

A proposal to abolish six councils and create a new ‘unitary’ authority in Oxfordshire looks set to save the county £100m.

Oxfordshire is run by a two-tiered local government - a county council plus five district and city councils - but reports suggest this is ‘inefficient’.

Two independent studies by Grant Thornton and PwC initially put forward different suggestions for local government reorganisation.

However, they both concluded a unitary arrangement and increasingly joined up services would save £100m over the first five years.

‘Councils in Oxfordshire have become a lot more efficient but we cannot continue to make savings without further cuts to local services,’ said Oxfordshire CC leader Cllr Ian Hudspeth.

‘I want local government’s limited budget to be spent on improving services rather than running six separate organisations.

‘We already know residents are confused about who does what. Our proposal for a district-based, unitary council can serve local communities while being more efficient and simpler for residents - one phone number, one website and one point of contact.’

He said the council could not afford to ‘turn our back’ on the £100m saving.

‘While we delay reorganising local government, we are wasting around £400,000 every week on running six councils – per year, that would fill 307,000 potholes or provide home care for 1,687 older people or approximately one million hours of home care.’

Districts in Oxfordshire have continued to argue for a combined authority as being ‘more effective in delivering the things government wants’ after dropping their own reorganisation plans.

Cllr Bob Price, leader of Oxford City Council said it was 'the wrong proposal at the wrong time'.

He said: 'The creation of a single unitary council for the whole of Oxfordshire would be highly disruptive for local services and will take years to create. By contrast, a Combined Authority and Elected Mayor could be created very quickly, and that option has the support of our Local Economic Partnership (OxLEP) as well.

'The savings of £20m a year that are claimed is very small against a total budget of over £821m for the new authority, and fails to take account of the high costs of the transition in redundancies and reorganisations. That’s just 2.4% savings a year which could be saved more easily by changing services within current structures.'

The Conservative leader of Norfolk CC admitted to The MJ that the two-tier system has ‘run its course’ following calls from UKIP members to consider going unitary.

Where are your services on the Smart City journey? image

Where are your services on the Smart City journey?

With technology moving into the next era of 5G and AI, The MJ and BT recently conducted a survey into the extent that local authorities are using shared services to develop their Smart Cities and Places. Michael Burton reports
SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Social Worker - Family Support & Protection

Essex County Council
£30300 - £41475 per annum + plus benefits
We are one of the most effective and progressive Children and Families Service in the country. Our vision is to support families through strengths bas England, Essex, Basildon
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Senior Sustainability & Resilience Officer

Essex County Council
£30001.0 - £34017 per annum
This opportunity is to be offered on a 6-month, fixed term / secondment contract basisInterviews scheduled to be held Friday 17th April Job Purpose Es England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Senior Social Worker or Senior OT - Older Adults Team

Essex County Council
£38400 - £46475 per annum
Interviews for this role will take place via video calling using Microsoft Teams.Seeking skilled, motivated Senior Social Workers and Senior OT's who England, Essex, Colchester
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Principal Litigation Solicitor

Thanet District Council
Starting Salary £41,676 per annum, with opportunity for progression to £47,508 per annum.
We are a small and friendly team and are looking to expand with a number of senior legal roles Thanet, Kent
Recuriter: Thanet District Council

Information Governance and Equalities Manager

Thanet District Council
Starting salary of £38,916 per annum, with opportunity for progression to £44,352 per annum
We are a small and friendly team and are looking to expand with a number of senior legal roles Thanet, Kent
Recuriter: Thanet District Council

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how how flexible workspaces can lead the way in regeneration for local authorities, Why local authority intervention is key to successful urban regeneration schemes and if the Government’s challenge of embracing beauty is an opportunity for communities.

The March issue also takes a closer look at Blackburn with Darwen Council's first digital health hub to help people gain control over health and care services.

Register for your free digital issue