Council tax increase and cuts to buses and libraries on the cards
District council needs to save up to £19m
COUNCIL tax is set to rise by four per cent next year as West Berkshire Council looks to make savings of £19m.
Bus services and libraries are also among the latest public services to face the axe, it was confirmed today.
Council tax itself is likely to go up by 1.99 per cent, while a two per cent 'social care precept' would be added, meaning taxpayers' bills would rise by four per cent.
This would generate around £3.2m for the council and would see the West Berkshire Council part of the council tax bill for an average band D home rise by £50.14.
West Berkshire Council's leader, Roger Croft, said: “Local residents should be under no illusion about the scale of the challenge we face in finding £18.9m savings – around a fifth of our entire budget – in one year.
"It means we now have to consider areas which even a few weeks ago would have been unthinkable but that’s the position we’ve been left in.
“In the past we’ve resisted putting up council tax as we know local residents are facing increased living costs and instead we’ve chosen to protect frontline services rather than accumulate large reserves.
"However, given the scale of the challenges ahead, it is with regret that there is now no alternative but to consider an increase. By asking all residents to pay a little bit more it will allow us to protect some of the most critical services we provide to the community.
“Council tax alone won’t plug the gap in our finances however and nor will the proposed savings we’ve already found."
The council thought it would have to save £10.8m next year, but have been rocked by the news it could have to save an extra £8.9m on top of that.
It has already consulted on proposed cuts to 47 areas of public spending.
It is now holding a second public consultation on the latest round of cuts before setting its budget in March.
The budget consultation will begin on Monday February 15 and close on Monday March 7. Details of the proposals will be published at the beginning of the consultation and will be found at: www.westberks.gov.uk/budgetconsultation.
The council must set its’ budget on March 1, but it will still be able to adjust these plans following the second consultation.
Once closed, consultation feedback will be fully considered and if any issues are raised which require a change to these plans the executive will consider the feedback and make any necessary decisions.
Mr Croft added: “We would normally look to open a consultation for a full six week period, but given the timeframe forced upon us, three weeks is the most we can offer in order to leave enough time for officers to review and implement changes in time for the next financial year.”