Reading Borough Council (RBC) is consulting on its draft budget for the next financial year and a three year capital investment programme. The consultation will close for comment on Sunday 19 January.

Background

Leader of the council, Councillor Jason Brock, introduced the budget and the proposal to consult with Reading residents on next year’s budget at the 16 December policy committee. He said:

This is an ambitious budget and I think we should all take a moment perhaps to acknowledge the hard work that has gone in by many officers and indeed many members of this authority to ensure that we’re in a postion where we can set an ambitious budget…

Here we are, not only able to protect our services but able to invest in our services.. produce efficiency savings that do not diminish the service that the public receive.

[at 1:14:45]

Councillor Rob White (Green Party) said:

This budget unfortunately continues to manage the decline of Reading.

[at 1:16:20]

He went on to suggest that, alongside the standard sections in the report dealing with financial and legal implications, there should be one on environmental implications to match Reading’s declaration of a climate emergency.

For the Liberal Democrat Party, Councillor Ricky Duveen said that not enough publicity was being given to the steps to improve the environment and sustainability that Reading would be taking and had already taken.

Councillor Jeanette Skeats (Conservative Party) said she was happy that a consultation was taking place. She added that Conservative members reserved their views on the budget until the February full council meeting, and they would therefore abstain in the vote.

The budget is based on an assumption of a council tax increase of 1.99%, plus an additional one-off 2% increase to spend on adult social care, which will bring the total increase in council tax bills next year to 3.99%.

The budget consultation

The introduction to the consultation summarises Reading’s expected sources of income and planned spending next year. There is more detail in the policy committee report.

The consultation poses four questions about the budget, savings and income proposals and the capital investment programme:

  • RBC ask if residents have any alternative suggestions for how to balance the budget and find £11.4 million in savings or additional income.
  • The council would also like ideas for how to pay for the rising cost of adult social care without the 2% council tax increase.
  • RBC plans £357 million of investment on road repairs, leisure facilities, schools etc over the next three years. The council would like residents’ alternative thoughts about how to modernise facilities and infrastructure and help the council achieve its net zero-carbon target by 2030.
  • The final question is about the negative impact that the budget might have on some people and how the council can mitigate against that.

The consultation is available online and it is open to businesses, voluntary organisations and other interested parties as well as residents.

Responses can also be made by email to budget@reading.gov.uk or in writing to Budget Consultation, Policy Team, Reading Borough Council, Civic Offices, Bridge Street, Reading, RG1 2LU.

Hard copies of the consultation are available in libraries or at the Civic Offices and can be requested in braille, large print or in translation.

Council feedback from the consultation is expected on 17 February, and the budget and council tax for the forthcoming year will be set at the full council meeting in February.

Post updated 7 January 2020 for alternative response routes and availability of copies of consultation.


Links

  1. RBC policy committee 16 December 2019 papers & webcast
  2. Investing in Reading: budget consultation 2020/21
  3. Provisional local government finance settlement 2020 to 2021
  4. Reading Climate Emergency Declaration