Slough could be set to follow Bucks with 3.99% Council Tax hike
Bad news for cash strapped residents. A Council Tax hike of up to 3.99% is possible next month as Slough’s Cabinet works out how to deal with a larger than expected funding shortfall.
Slough Borough Council’s Cabinet is being asked to agree on a way forward for closing the 2016-17 funding gap following the draft Local Government Finance Settlement on the 17th December. That is likely to mean it will follow Bucks’ Cabinet which recommended a 3.99% rise last Monday.
Tomorrow night’s Cabinet meeting, the first of 2016, is being requested to agree changes to school funding, agree to new financial planning assumptions, and prepare the ground for a likely Council Tax hike in February.
The Local Government Finance Settlement announced on the 17th December included the timing of major reductions to central Government grants. Though Slough fares better than others locally its main Government grant, the Revenue Support Grant, is set to decline from £24m to £6m in the next four years.
A report to Cabinet in December noted that funding available to the Council in 2016-17 was already set to deteriorate by £1.5m. Now the Council says there will be further pressure into the next financial year to the tune of another £1m.
Expenditure, at £103.4m in 2016-2017, is currently forecast to drop to £97.7m next year, £95.3m in 2018-19, and £94.1m by 2019-2020.
Cabinet will be asked to approve a new funding formula for Slough’s 44 schools, academies and free school tomorrow that is expected to see some schools lose funding. The report by officers to commissioners notes that Government figures show that Slough is now “less deprived” than in 2010.
And among a range of options which Cabinet will discuss tomorrow is an option to take advantage of the Government’s offer to allow councils to increase Council Tax by up to 4% without a referendum, including 2% allocated to an Adult Social Care precept. Cabinet will decide that in February; as things stand the Council’s previous figures were based on an increase of 2.94% with a further rise of 1% already forecast for each of the following three years. Officers have now suggested a rise of 3.99% is an option.
Other possibilities include cuts spread across all Council services, use of capital receipts to fund revenue expenditure, and use of a £1m reserve that had been set aside for restructuring over the next four years.
Cabinet meets tomorrow at Chalvey Community Centre from 6:30pm. The meeting is open to the public.