They are set to affect areas including transport, council services, healthcare, policing and funding for sports and arts groups.
They come on top of in-year savings that have already seen new school buildings, speed cameras, road projects and leisure improvement schemes in Oxfordshire shelved. The Government’s comprehensive spending review (CSR) will set out an average 25 per cent budget cut for all Whitehall departments for the next four years as it seeks to reduce the country’s deficit.
But a number of departments – education and health among them – have had their cash protected or will suffer cuts below the 25 per cent average, leaving others exposed to reductions of up to 40 per cent.
The Department of Transport and the Department of Communities and Local Government are both outside the protective ring fence, and both are key funders of local authority projects and services. Businesses across the county will also be watching the Chancellor carefully to analyse how the review will affect them.
Sports, arts and voluntary groups are also concerned that cuts to funding will have a devastating impact on the services they provide. Fiona Middleton runs the Higher Energy Trampolining Club which now has seven locations across west Oxfordshire catering for 200 children a week.
The club was established with funding from the Oxfordshire Schools Sports Partnership – a body funded by Oxfordshire’s district councils and Sport England – and Mrs Middleton said continued public investment in grass roots sports was vital. She said that without funding, sporting opportunities for young people in Oxfordshire would be devastated.
She added: “Sport plays a massive part in social development. It develops team building and our club is like a family now. We can’t cut spending at grass roots level.”
Both Oxfordshire county and Oxford city councils are heavily reliant on Government funding. And although the CSR will not detail how much they will lose over the coming years, it will give both authorities the strongest indication yet of how hard they will be hit.
Oxfordshire County Council – which is responsible for libraries, social care, roads and the fire service – receives about 60 per cent of its funding from the Government.
Based on its own estimates, it is planning to cut £200m from its budget over the next five years. Leader Keith Mitchell said: “Regardless of whether Mr Osborne makes us feel better, worse or about the same as regards our current £200m planning assumption, the situation will still involve very deep cuts and difficult decisions that will eclipse any that I or my colleagues have had to make.”
At the Town Hall, Oxford City Council leader Bob Price said it would be difficult to deal with cuts without affecting services. He added: “The Government is also promising to slash the separate funding streams for affordable housing, housing benefits and homelessness. These could have a massive impact on Oxford.”
The city council’s services include social housing, bin collections and leisure centres.
Both councils will get full details of their Government settlement later in the year.