THOUSANDS of people could lose the right to get a discount on leisure services across Oxford if a move is passed.

Currently, the council said about 13,600 people and 11,000 households can get a reduction on services in the city.

But it wants to change that so 1,600 people receiving Universal Credit and 5,500 receiving reductions to their council tax qualify instead.

The council said it thinks the changes will ‘provide affordable access to leisure centres for those in greatest need, without subsiding those on higher incomes’.

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It also plans to increase the age at which older people can receive a concessionary price from 60 to 65.

That will then increase to 66 in October 2020 and to 67 sometime between 2026 and 2028.

Linda Smith, the council’s cabinet member for leisure and housing, said: “With the introduction of Universal Credit in Oxford and the transfer of households onto the new benefit, we need to undertake a review of how we offer leisure centre discounts.

“The most effective way to do that is to link discounts to the Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS) and those receiving the housing element of Universal Credit. The proposals we’re considering recommend supporting households with annual income of less than around £20,000, and people with impairments will continue to qualify.”

The city’s council-owned leisure services are run by Fusion. They include leisure centres in Barton, Summertown, Blackbird Leys and the Oxford Ice Rink.

Ms Smith said councils had found its new strategy would be a ‘fair and comparable offer’, with the concessionary officer remaining ‘one of the best locally and nationally’.

Statistics show few people entitled to concessionary rates used them during 2018/19.

But many of the benefits that people received for reductions are being transferred into Universal Credit.

Ms Smith added: “We have consulted with other councils on their approach and are recommending this as a fair and comparable offer, and benchmarking suggests that the our concessionary offer is one of the best locally and nationally."

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The council runs a scheme for free swimming for under-17s. Other reductions could include reductions for ex-service people, council papers say.