Westminster Diary

19th February 2020

The Government has confirmed the biggest funding boost for local councils in a decade and both Reading and West Berkshire councils will benefit.

Local authorities play a vital role in our communities, providing the crucial local services that people rely on every day. I am therefore delighted that, as part of the Government’s promise to level up communities across the whole country, local authorities across the country will receive a share of the £49.2 billion local government spending this year. This represents a 4.4% real terms increase and the largest year-on-year real terms increase in a decade.

Funding for key public services will be protected, with significant extra resources dedicated to areas where they are needed most. Reading Borough Council will have an extra £9.3 million to spend this year, representing a 7% increase. And West Berkshire Council will receive an extra £6.7 million, representing a 5.6% increase.

The latest Local Government Finance Settlement includes an additional £1.5 billion for social care. When added to the existing social care package, local authorities will now have access to over £5.5 billion of dedicated funding across adult and children’s social care in 2020-2021.

Local authorities will also be rewarded for building new homes, with another £907 million committed to the New Homes Bonus for 2020-2021 to encourage sustainable development that benefits local communities.

Thanks to the measures taken by the Government, local authorities will be able to prevent excessive Council Tax rises, striking the right balance between the interests of council taxpayers and addressing pressure on services. Of course, ultimately local residents have power to veto excessive Council Tax rises, with a veto being required if local authorities propose raising the tax above 2 per cent, with some flexibility for some authority types.

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