A council leader has criticised the Government funding his district receives – the lowest per resident in all unitary authorities in the country.
Wokingham Borough Council will continue to get £30 million less than the national average in this year’s Local Government Finance Settlement because it is perceived to be a wealthy area.
Cllr Clive Jones said: “This happens to us every year and it is not right. I understand that some areas do have more needs but all councils face spiralling basic costs because of inflation.
“We cannot raise council tax to a level that will meet the needs of the people who live here, nor would we want to, but this leaves us in the difficult position where we have to cover the gap in our funding, by postponing projects and increasing charges for our services – just imagine what an extra £30m a year could do to benefit our communities.”
Cllr Jones has written to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to complain. The settlement means council tax payers face higher bills to compensate.
Cllr Imogen Shepherd-Dubey, executive member for finance, has called for a new local government funding model based on the costs of running a local authority. She has argued for future settlements to cover a longer period of time.
She said: “This year, Wokingham’s overall core spending power only increased 6.9 per cent, well below inflation as demand increases meaning a further pressure on critical local services. The Local Government Finance Settlement must keep in line with overall levels of inflation and general cost increases.
“Local Authorities also need to be given surety of the longer-term grant and funding arrangements. Without that understanding it is impossible to effectively plan its future financial strategy, service impacts and to invest key resources appropriately.
“Forward planning is key and shorter-term approaches are often more expensive and therefore place additional financial pressures and impact ultimately value for money.”
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