A balanced Budget for 2023-24
Plans contain a range of commitments to enhance and maintain the services on which residents rely
West Berkshire Council's Budget for 2023-24 was given final approval at the Council's annual Budget meeting on 2 March.
The plans contain a range of commitments to enhance and maintain the services on which residents rely, including new spending on transport, schools and other infrastructure to enhance the lives of local people and boost the local economy.
Residents were asked to submit their views on some of the key questions for the budget during a six week consultation. Their responses informed the final budget proposals which include:
Nearly £400 million will be invested in numerous capital projects over the next decade, including new and improved educational facilities across the district. As part of that, there will be a new Social, Emotional & Mental Health (SEMH) facility (the Castle@Theale),enhancement of existing educational facilities and provision of new school places in response to new housing developments.
£12.3 million will be spent on leisure facilities, including the refurbishment of the popular Lido at Northcroft Leisure Centre in Newbury, while more than £140 million will go towards improving local infrastructure.
£27 million will be spent to support of the Council's Environment Strategy in response to the climate emergency and facilitating a move to more environmentally sustainable lifestyles and business models across the district. This Investment includes developing renewable energy provision and installation of on-street electric vehicle charging points across the district.
The council also holds a revenue budget, £63m of which will be used to fund Adult Social Care services, £21m for Children and Family Services, £11m for Education and Schools, and almost £4m extra for our council priorities, such as funding projects to achieve our biodiversity and net gain goals by investing in our natural capital such as re-wilding, habitat improvements and local ecology projects in order to help mitigate the impact of local developments.
To help pay for this, there'll be an increase in Council Tax of 2.99%, plus a 2% precept for Adult Social Care, the council's greatest area of expenditure. This equates to an additional £1.59 per week for a Band D property.
Councillor Ross Mackinnon, West Berkshire's Executive Member for Finance and Economic Development says,
"We're proud to have yet again delivered a positive budget in difficult circumstances. This budget has been one of the hardest to set as - like all local authorities - we're facing inflation-related pressures and rapidly rising costs, particularly in the services that protect our most vulnerable residents.
"These increases will add significant new costs to the Council's services, but we are confident that by taking on board the comments of our residents, we know what matters most to them and have managed to create a value for money budget that will allow us to continue to move forward with important investment in the district, target support for those who need it most and deliver the future needs of West Berkshire."
For more information see the full Budget Report.