Wokingham Borough Council has agreed a proposed £100,000 increase in funding for the council tax reduction scheme (CTRS), to help residents who may experience financial difficulties in paying their council tax.
The growth to the localised CTRS, agreed at full council last month, will ensure more working age borough residents have access to financial help.
The council has reviewed its current CTRS, assessing its impact and effectiveness and, in light of the current cost of living pressures, additional funds to support residents is needed.
The council, like all local government organisations across the UK, is facing huge financial challenges to ensure vital services are protected and its residents receive the help and support they need to keep their families safe.
Funding needed from central government
This additional support needed for residents, comes at a time when Cllr Clive Jones, leader of Wokingham Borough Council, has written to central government as the borough continues to receive the least funding from central government per resident of any unitary authority in the country.
Cllr Jones has stressed the need for further funding as the increases in demand for statutory services for residents, including those with special education needs and disabilities, have left the council struggling financially.
Cllr Jones said, “We need to make savings to ensure that we have the funds available to continue to help those in need. This £100,000 increase in funding for the council tax reduction scheme, that is required, is just one example of the help and support that we are providing for our residents who are struggling financially.
“We don’t receive our fair share of money from central government compared to other local councils across the country. This, combined with high inflation making everything more expensive, is putting further pressure on critical local services that are in increasingly high demand.”
Making the tough decisions
Cllr Imogen Shepherd-Dubey, executive member for finance, said, “We are making the tough decisions to ensure that we remain financially sound. Savings need to be made as the cost of living crisis is hitting our residents and local businesses as well as us as a council”.
“We have advised residents that they will be receiving less blue bags this year. This is because 54 bags this year will cost the same as 80 bags did last year. This is just one example of spiralling costs at a time when central government are not providing us with adequate funding to support our residents. We need a new local government funding model based on the genuine costs of running a local authority”.
“Despite financial pressures, high costs and inadequate funding, we are on track to set a balanced budget for the next financial year. We have worked hard to reduce costs and spending to protect vital services and help residents who may experience financial difficulties. Due to the needs of our residents we have also allocated an additional £250,000 within our budget for next year to continue to provide financial support”.
For further information about the council tax reduction scheme visit the council website.
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