An unexpected bonus for councils of additional funding for adult social care was agreed by Parliament on 7 February, of which Reading will receive £355,000. This was welcomed by Reading Borough Council (RBC), but it came too late for the budget calculations which are going to RBC policy committee on Monday 19 February.
Reading will also benefit this year from participating in the Business Rates Pilot scheme along with other Berkshire unitary authorities. This allows councils to retain a higher proportion of business rates in return for losing the revenue support grant from the government.
RBC are proposing an increase of just under 6% in council tax next year, the maximum possible without a local referendum. Last year’s limit, which is set by the government, was just under 5%.
Reading collects council tax on 70,943 properties of which 28,756 (41%) are in band C. Council tax on band C properties will increase from £1,531.85 to £1,623.68 (5.99%) per annum if the proposals are approved.
In order to balance the budget for the year commencing 1 April 2018 and future years, RBC must still make more savings. On top of those already agreed, an additional £3.6 million of savings are proposed for next year, £3.8 million in 2019/20 and £4.4 million in 2020/21.
RBC has still not finalised its accounts for the year ended 31 March 2017, but say:
To date no errors have been found that would lead to concerns about the amount of money spent or received in 2016/17, which in turn would undermine or alleviate the position in subsequent years.
If policy committee approve the budget proposals they will go to the next full council meeting on 28 February for final approval. The additional adult social care funding will be incorporated into the final budget presented to council.
- Local Government Finance debate 7 February 2018
- Berkshire Local Authorities to Pilot New Funding System
- Latest Savings and Income Proposals Provide a Balanced Budget
- House of Commons Library – Council Tax: Local Referendums
- RBC policy committee 19 February 2018 – papers & webcast