Seven out of ten people in Oxfordshire would be happy to pay more Council Tax to protect services and almost half would opt for a rise of between 15 and 20% if it meant services could be enhanced.
These are some of the key findings of a MORI poll which last week revealed that, taken overall, householders in Oxfordshire are quite prepared to pay an extra 1631 a week to maintain existing services.
Eighteen per cent said they would actually double that to 163100 a year for better services (meaning a 20% increase in Council Tax), and 28% opted for 16375 if it meant services could be maintained with some improvements. Only 16% wanted no increase.
The MORI poll was commissioned by Oxfordshire County Council which faces a potential shortfall of 16315m in its funding for next year's services.
An appeal to the government for a better settlement yielded little, so County Councillors now have to decide how far they should go to protect and enhance services by raising Council Tax. They meet to try and fix a budget tomorrow (Tuesday 9 February).
County Council Chief Executive John Harwood said: "Our Councillors are well aware of how hard some people struggle to balance household budgets and they wanted to be absolutely certain how much support there would be for trying to protect services through raising Council Tax bills.
"That is why they chose a respected company, MORI, to gauge public opinion, and the results are extremely helpful. People in Oxfordshire clearly value good local services and are satisfied with the way the County Council is doing its job. I think many have been surprised to find how much lower Council Tax is in Oxfordshire than in many other parts of the country. That would remain the case even if Oxfordshire's Council Tax increase is relatively high. Compared nationally, our schools, social services, roads, fire protection etc. remain very good value for money."
The majority of those questioned want more money spent on maintaining roads and pavements, caring for older people, the disabled and vulnerable, and on facilities for young people. Approaching half of residents also want more spent on road safety, public transport, education and libraries. No one identified services which should have less resources.
The survey interviewed a sample of 1,000 people aged 18 and over chosen to reflect the known profile of the county, taking into account age, social class, gender and geographical area. Interviews were carried out by telephone between 22-30 January. Results based on the full sample of 1631,000 are accurate to plus or minus 3% at the 95% confidence interval.