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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

Dan Cooper

dan.cooper@newburynews.co.uk

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01635 886632

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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