December 2018

Welcome to our latest newsletter

We hope you enjoyed reading last month’s edition of Oxfordshire Matters, thecounty council’s newsletter for our stakeholders.

1. Daytime Support Sustainability Grant Awards

Twenty-nine organisations have been recommended to receive grants from the county council’s adult social care Sustainability Fund. The fund was established last year as part of measures designed to enable the ongoing delivery of daytime support services in Oxfordshire.

A grant pot of £250,000 was approved for 2019/20 and community and voluntary organisations were invited to apply for the fund between September 12 and November 2. To allocate the funding to as many organisations as possible, a panel of county councillors and people representing daytime services recommended that a maximum level of 70 per cent of the amount awarded in 2018/19 should be made where applicable.

Among those services recommended for funding are Day Break Oxford (£50,000), Age UK (£27,500), October Club (£14,000) and Aspire (£12,500). Applications totalling £244,847 went before Cabinet on December 18. The paper can be found here.

Corporate priority: Enabling older and disabled people to live independent lives

2. SEND sufficiency strategy gains approval

Plans to create significant new provision for Oxfordshire children with special educational needs (SEND) have been agreed by councillors, with a £15m investment set to create 300 new places which will involve a major rebuild for Northfield School in Oxford.

The county council has conducted a wide-ranging review of its special educational needs provision in light of the large increases in the numbers of children with such needs entering the educational system in recent years and the forecast for continued increases in the future. The paper can be found here.

At a national level, the Department for Education will be rolling out a new assessment approach for pupils with complex disabilities, from 2020. DfE has said “The statutory assessment will replace P scales 1 to 4 and will be based on the ‘7 aspects of engagement’, an assessment approach that focuses on pupils abilities in specific areas like awareness, curiosity and anticipation”.

Corporate priority:striving to give every child a good start in life.

3. County council budget proposals emerge for debate

Oxfordshire County Council’s budget proposals have emerged ahead of deliberations by councillors throughout Winter until Tuesday, February 12 when a budget is finally set.

Currently the council is anticipating raising its children’s social care budget once more. In 2011 the budget was £46m and it is currently predicted to be £95m in 2023. The number of children in care in Oxfordshire has risen from 425 in 2011 to more than 790 in 2018.

In adult social care the council has consistently set aside more than £5m a year to deal with the increasing numbers of people entering care that has been experienced across England. This will continue.

Proposed council tax rises would be 2.99 per cent in 2019/20 and 1.99 per cent in the years after.
A series of new financial pressures and new savings have been published by the council for consideration by scrutiny committees, cabinet and full council, which can read here . There are particular pressures in children’s social care, adult social care and services for children with special educational needs. The pressure to find savings will continue, and the county council is under no illusions it needs to avoid being complacent.

Beyond 2019/20, local government is very uncertain about the funding it will receive. This is due to the Whitehall departmental spending review, the review of the funding formula which governs what each individual council receives in funding and the future distribution of business rates.

Corporate priority: listening to residents so we can continuously improve our services and provide value for money.

4. New Fire Station opens in Carterton

Oxfordshire’s 25th fire station opened at Carterton on Wednesday 5 December. It is the first new fire station in the county this century. The previous opened as a replacement in Eynsham in 1985.

For the first time, a fire engine is based in the town, enhancing firefighters’ ability to respond quickly to emergencies throughout West Oxfordshire; helping residents live safe and healthy lives. The project is a part of the county council’s ongoing commitment to residents’ safety,

This temporary fire station is a secure location for a fire engine and crew. It’s an important stepping stone towards providing a permanent base for fire and rescue in Carterton. Something the county council will be pursuing vigorously in coming months. More details are here.

Corporate priority: helping people live safe, healthy lives

5. £10 million programme delivering road repairs

Journeys on Oxfordshire’s roads have been significantly improved in recent months thanks to an extra £10million being spent this year on repairing and improving road surfaces. A range of different methods of road repair and sealing are used to extend the life of our roads and reduce the likelihood of potholes forming which include resurfacing, patching, Dragon patching and surface dressing.
While the larger scale work is all done – meaning a total of more than 322,000 square metres of road has been improved –smaller patching and resurfacing projects are still being done all around the county.

Examples of the larger-scale resurfacing projects completed thanks to the additional investment can be seen at Kennington Road in Kennington, Marston slip roads in Oxford, Seesen Way in Wantage, Shipton Road in Woodstock. More details available here.

Corporate priority: supporting a thriving local economy by improving transport links to create jobs and homes for the future.

6. Oxfordshire County Council welcomes government’s waste strategy

Oxfordshire County Council has welcomed the government’s new Waste and Resources Strategy for England, describing it as “ambitious”, with the potential to “transform the way that waste is viewed and managed.”

Importantly, the strategy is based on the ‘polluter pays’ principal so that producers rather than councils will meet the costs of collection, recycling and disposal of specific materials. This will hopefully incentivise producers and manufactures to design their product and packaging to be more easily recycled.

Oxfordshire is the best recycling county in England (current recycling rate is over 57% in Oxfordshire), meaning we’re well placed to help deliver the goals of this strategy.

Read our full response to the strategy here.

Corporate priority: enhancing quality of life

Oxfordshire County Council consultations

The county council believes it is important to consult its stakeholder groups and residents when planning, managing and delivering its services.

To view all of Oxfordshire County Council’s current consultations, the results of consultations that have closed; consultations by the city and district councils, the clinical commissioning group and central government please visit:

Major transport projects latest

Further updates on all road schemes can be found at including progress, road closures, diversions and expected completion dates. Just type in the location you are interested in. You can also set up email alerts.

Furthermore, you can sign up for news on major projects currently in construction and travel choices available from here.