NECESSITY is the mother of invention and you can say the latest money-raising scheme from Oxfordshire County Council is certainly inventive.

Yesterday the council’s “income generation cabinet advisory group” backed a new scheme whereby the fine upstanding taxpayers of the county are going to be able to donate extra cash to help out the cash-strapped authority.

As we all know, the council is staring down the barrel after the latest round of funding cuts and so is exploring, it would appear, any and all ways of rustling up as many coppers as possible.

Getting people to overpay their council tax is seemingly a non-starter so this latest scheme of donations is being recommended to the cabinet to pursue.

Arash Fatemian, the council’s head of finance, is entirely realistic this is unlikely to be a source of riches.

At best, seemingly, the council might hit four figures, a tiny drop in the ocean when you are talking financial woes of £61m.

There is some merit in the scheme if people are able to donate to a particular sector of council services they want to help – care of the elderly for example.

But that the project is even being investigated is an insight into where the council has found itself. As Bob Price, the leader of Oxford City Council, says, it really does smack of desperation.

Mr Fatemian will not like this, but it is hard not to have the mental image of him sat cross-legged in Cornmarket Street with a tatty hat and muttering at passers by: “Any spare change?”

The downturn has been shocking for this country but are things really so bad that the Government is happy for its county councils to be effectively reduced to the level of begging?