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Six per cent increase to council tax bills will 'punish' West Berkshire residents

Opposition leader hits out at proposals

Dan Cooper

Dan Cooper

dan.cooper@newburynews.co.uk

Contact:

01635 886632

Council tax set to rise by four per cent from April

WEST Berkshire residents are being “punished” by proposals to increase council tax by almost six per cent.

That was the claim from the district council’s Lib Dem opposition leader, Lee Dillon, this week.

Faced with a reduction in Government funding, the cash-strapped council is recommending to raise council tax by 2.99 per cent, with a further three per cent rise towards the adult social care precept on top. 

The two combined would generate an extra £5.4m in revenue for the council and see bills rise by 5.99 per cent.

The Conservative-led district council said it had little option but to implement an increase for the third successive year, due to the “huge financial constraints” it was under.

It added that “all options” had been considered and if the proposals to put up council tax were not taken forward, it would have to find an extra £5.4m of savings.

The council’s executive member for finance, Anthony Chadley (Con, Birch Copse), said: “West Berkshire is facing huge financial constraints, as are all councils.

“This means that unless changes are made to the way we deliver services and income generated from sources apart from the government grant, more services will be impacted.

“Your council is adapting during the current financial challenges to help ensure that West Berkshire continues to be a great place in which to live and work.”

Mr Dillon hit back, saying: “The Tories played politics for years, offering zero percent budgets and are now in difficulty and punishing residents with bigger rises when wages are not going up at the same rate.

“The short-term political gain is coming back to hurt them and, more importantly, hurting residents and local services as their own Government strips away funding.”

Alongside the council tax increase, £5.2m of “savings and income generation” proposals have been put forward, including a £50-a-year charge for garden waste collection. 

However, the proposed cut to core funding for Citizens Advice West Berkshire (CAWB), from £120,000 to £40,000, will be reduced. 

After public consultation, the council has decided to reduce the charity’s core grant to £80,000.

CAWB chief executive Jan Rothwell said: “We are very grateful to everyone, particularly our clients, who responded so movingly to the council’s consultation on the proposed cut. 

“Their responses are a testament to the life-changing work of our volunteers and staff.”

The proposed council tax rise follows a 4.99 per cent increase last year (1.99 for council tax and 3 per cent for adult social care precept) and a 3.99 per cent increase the year before. 

At the same time, the amount the council receives from the Government through the Revenue Support Grant has been reduced to a £120,000, a 97 per cent reduction on last year, equating to a loss of £3.6m.

The council has been forced to make £55m savings in the last eight years.

The proposals will go before full council on March 1. 

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Article comments

  • Ihavenonickname

    19/02/2018 - 11:11

    JAM's of West Berkshire, is it hurting you enough yet to vote these Nasty Party Tories out of power locally and nationally? No, I thought not! So, more of the same then. Pay more get less!

    Reply

  • NewburyLad

    19/02/2018 - 09:09

    But you want more spent on services and less cuts.......you can't have it both ways, we don't have a magic money tree and everything has to come out of OUR, the taxpayers, pockets, one way or another. Typical Lib Dumber.

    Reply

    • James_Trinder

      19/02/2018 - 10:10

      No, I think that what most people want is to not have a reduction in services combined with an increase in council tax.

      Reply

      • NewburyLad

        19/02/2018 - 11:11

        But demand on services is increasing every year because of immigration and a growing population - you HAVE to either increase taxes or you have to cut services - you either massively increase taxes and don't cut services, or you cut services and don't increase taxes. If you leave taxes alone and leave services alone, then less people will have access to the services. As for DVB below, so you asking for councillors take a pay cut - presumably you want that to apply to ALL workers who are funded by council tax?

        Reply

        • EugeneStryker

          19/02/2018 - 13:01

          The most comprehensive review of the impacts of migration on services was conducted by the Migration Advisory Committee in 2012. It pointed to serious difficulties in accurately measuring the effects of migration on the availability and quality of public services - it is impressive that you have managed to find a direct causal relationship. Also, using the phrase 'there is no magic money tree' just demonstrates that you have swallowed the nonsense that our economy is like a household budget, which of course it isn't.

          Reply

        • NewburyLad

          19/02/2018 - 18:06

          EuguneStrkyer has just perfectly demonstrated Labour's economic policy in one line - they do believe there is an unlimited supply of money and that the economy doesn't have to be balanced - Labour just want to take an infinite amount of money from the economy, not realising that there isn't an infinite amount of money that can be put into it. It will look good to start with - everyone loves something for free, but eventually the money WILL run out.

          Reply

        • EugeneStryker

          19/02/2018 - 19:07

          Just because the central bank of NewburyLad has been printing millions of plonker pounds, it doesn't make your household budget any more like the economy.

          Reply

        • James_Trinder

          19/02/2018 - 13:01

          Personally, I don't think that argument stacks up because the additional population should also be paying council tax.

          Reply

        • Markwk

          19/02/2018 - 12:12

          Err, immigrants and our growing population are actually paying for these services themselves, via the taxes they pay. Ironically, most aren't of retirement age, so are arguably paying more. Would say Tesco or Sainsbury's keep their bread and milk order static when they see customer numbers increase? Let alone increase prices to 'damp' demand. The real answer lies in root and branch reform of local government. It's simply no longer economic to have myriad different independent authorities trying to deliver services and paying expensive lawyers to mediate turf wars between them; like refuse collection.

          Reply

        • NewburyDenizen

          19/02/2018 - 15:03

          The problem here is, your argument is too grounded in fact and wasn't pulled off the front of the Daily Mail or other fear mongering rag that "NewburyLad" will be reading, the mere possibility that immigration isn't the root cause of our problems just doesn't register to these scared individuals.

          Reply

        • NewburyLad

          19/02/2018 - 18:06

          Ah, the lefty mantra, rant on about the Daily Mail when they hear something they dont like. Presumably you're one of those who think all immigrants are brain surgeons, doctors, scientists, engineers, all paying top rate tax.

          Reply