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Council reeling after £15m cuts announcement

West Berkshire Council says cuts are "considerably worse" than first thought and warned it is "considering all options"

Dan Cooper

Reporter:

Dan Cooper

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01635 886632

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WEST Berkshire Council is reeling after central government handed it the third worst financial settlement in the country.

The shock announcement by government ministers means their district council Tory counterparts will now need to find an estimated £15m in savings in 2016/17.

The council previously said it would need to find £10.8m worth of savings in 2016/17, including proposed cuts to children’s centres, care homes, CCTV cameras and public toilets.

However, West Berkshire taxpayers were this week warned things are far worse than expected after Westminster announced its plans for local government funding.

West Berkshire will have its revenue support grant – its main source of income from central government – slashed by 44 per cent next year.

The council’s leader and portfolio holder for finance, Roger Croft, said today (Wednesday) the council had only prepared for a 25 per cent reduction as a worst case scenario.

He warned that the council would now need to look at “all options”, including more cuts to services and an increase in council tax, as it looks to save an extra £6m.

Speaking to the Newbury Weekly News, Mr Croft said: “We are very disappointed by the initial local government settlement.

“The RSG is a fundamental way in which central government pay us and it is being cut by 39 per cent.  That is far in excess of what we expected

“It is considerably worse than we were planning for and we are going to have to look at every option now and that includes more cuts and council tax increases.

“The three highest hit councils are Wokingham, West Berkshire and Windsor. We are still understanding the rationale behind it.”

 

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Article comments

  • WestMills

    24/12/2015 - 11:11

    My wife works for West Berkshire Council and I have to say I am disgusted by some of the negative comments left on articles about these cuts. My family are ordinary people, residents of Newbury, and the vast majority of people working at the Council are hard-working people who love their jobs and trying to do the best for their community even though many of them could earn more in the private sector. My wife has not had a pay rise in years at the council, I am not complaining about this but it is rich to hear people in these comments complaining about how the council are all giving themselves pay rises. Can't you imagine the fear of real people whose jobs are under threat at Christmas, people who are hurt by your comments about wage rises, too many councillors, etc.? If you really care about Local Authority cuts then point fingers at the right people (i.e.: central government)

    Reply

    • JonnyRoberts87

      29/12/2015 - 00:12

      I think most people are referring to the increase (16%) in allowances that the councillors voted to give themselves earlier this year despite the hard-working council staff, as you rightly say, being subjected to a seemingly never ending pay freeze. That was a terrible and unjust decision. That said, there are some references to bonuses below. No idea what that's about!

      Reply

  • WestMills

    24/12/2015 - 11:11

    My wife works for West Berkshire Council and I have to say I am disgusted by some of the comments made on articles about the cuts. Most people working for Local Authorities are ordinary, hard-working people who could make a better living in the private sector but choose to remain where they are because they love their jobs and want to make their community better. Please consider this when making negative comments about councillors, the mayor, wages, etc. My wife has not had a pay rise in all the years she has been at the council.

    Reply

  • Numerate grumpy

    24/12/2015 - 11:11

    No wonder we are in a mess: the NWN thinks the cut is 44% but Mr Croft thinks it is 39%, can nobody do simple arithmetic these days?

    Reply

  • Dale21

    24/12/2015 - 09:09

    Lets start the belt tightening by reducing the number of councilors.

    Reply

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