Latest finance report shows balanced budget
The latest finance report shows that we've successfully balanced our budget during the last year - delivering important services for residents whilst strengthening reserves, preparing us for the challenges ahead
The latest finance report shows that West Berkshire Council has successfully balanced its budget during the last year - delivering important services for residents whilst strengthening reserves, preparing us for the challenges ahead.
Last year (2021/22) the Council had a budget of £142m to spend on services, with a further £43 million on capital projects to support delivery of the Council's approved Capital Strategy. The budget remains balanced despite the challenges of the pandemic, the steep rise in inflation, and whilst keeping the Council Tax increase to just 2%.
Throughout the year, our reserves have been protected in readiness for a rainy day. This leaves the Council in good shape to manage the impact of inflation, bigger energy bills and to support essential services as the needs of local communities change.
The financial performance is highlighted in a report going before Councillors at the next Executive meeting on 9 June and this will demonstrate West Berkshire's strong control of its finances.
"This report clearly shows that we were prepared to weather not only the huge storm of the pandemic, but that we have made sure that we are ready for further challenges.
"As the impact of inflation becomes clearer, so will the benefits of a well-managed budget. Having reserves in place means we can continue to protect our most vulnerable residents. This is our priority, and the £150 of locally funded support to those households of working age who receive the Council Tax Reduction scheme highlights this."
The Council is already delivering on a number of capital projects as part of their budget allocation for 2022/23. £52 million of investment has been earmarked for new and improved educational facilities across the district, £12 million on leisure facilities and more than £80 million to improve local infrastructure.
- £8m of building work at Highwood Copse Primary School on the Newbury College Campus and a £1.6 million investment for remodelling of the Parsons Down Partnership of Schools in Thatcham.
- A further £1.8 million is being spent on new equipment and services for children with special educational needs. This includes the recently refurbished Keevill Unit, a brilliant learning space for children with physical disabilities which is part of an £860,000 council funded transformation at Speenhamland School in Newbury.
- £3 million will be spent in the coming years to protect 200 homes in Thatcham. This will be in addition to the 933 protected by flood alleviation measures completed in recent years.
- We've contributed to sustainable travel by working with Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership to improve facilities, parking and accessibility at Theale and Newbury Railway Stations.
- We've also invested in road improvements including widening the A339 and a new junction at Sandleford to the new Highwood Copse School, along with significant investment to maintain our 1200km roads across the district.
- The Council's drive to reach carbon neutrality in West Berkshire by 2030 is already showing tangible results in several service areas, in particular, we have seen additional income from dry recycling and diversion of waste from landfill to 'energy from waste' sites.
Ross Mackinnon added,
"As your Council, we want to deliver value for money services and the infrastructure our district needs. We're proud of the investment we are putting into the district. We'll continue to invest so that West Berkshire continues to be a great place to live, work and learn.
"From schools to solar farms, from roads to care homes, we've made all sorts of improvements over the last year, targeting funding where it's needed most and delivering on our priorities: helping local businesses thrive, ensuring we're carbon neutral by 2030 and securing better outcomes for everyone in the district."
Latest figures also show that West Berkshire Council is among the country's top-10 districts to provide value for money. Find out more.
See the Agenda for the 9 June Executive Meeting here.