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£10m extra costs for West Berkshire Council on adult and children social care in this year’s b

Demand on adult and children social care will cost West Berkshire Council an extra £10m.

In the revenue budget for 2023, the council agreed to put up council tax by 4.99 per cent – including a two per cent levy for adult social care costs.

“I would dearly like to be freezing or even cutting council tax, but sadly I live in the real world and this year has been very challenging for us,” said Ross MacKinnon (Con, Bradfield), executive member for finance.

Ross MacKinnon, executive member for finance, speaking at an event at St Bart’s School in Newbury last year

“The council’s costs increase more each year to provide the same level of service.”

He said 71 per cent of the council income comes from council tax and that inflationary pressures were more severe than at any time in the last four decades.


“We have to balance competing demands across the district when setting the budget,” he added. “Most of those responding to a council survey supported a 4.99 per cent rise.

“Demand for adult and children social services, where we spend over half of our budget, requires an extra £10m in this year’s budget compared to last year.”

The meeting heard that £1.1m extra is being made available for vulnerable children and adults, including over half a million for children’s social care and £550k for school transport for children with special needs.

Included in the budget is a £300k refurbishment of the once closure-threatened Notrees care home, and a further £250k to upgrade The Willows.

The council also plans to spend £170k on a feasibility project to understand a longer term strategy on a new care home provision.

The cash will enable a third party company to investigate the care home market and the potential to place a new care-home and day centre in the Theale area.


The council is also open to potential land acquisition, dependant on findings.

It is also looking in to exploring new smart technology in its in-home care provision, increasing prevention of the number of falls.

“I want to emphasis that this is the first time in three years that this administration has gone for the maximum council tax rise,” added Mr MacKinnon.

“This year’s budget has been supported by reserves while maintaining the balance above its recommended level.

“£104k is invested in supporting businesses with a new business investment officer and further investment in the growth hub.

“We are clear that supporting business and local economy is essential to providing jobs for our residents and underpin the business rates and council tax in the district, which funds the provision of our vital local services. You cannot have one without the other.”

The investment rhetoric was challenged by the Lib Dems.

“The council’s own statistics show a huge decrease in businesses,” said Adrian Abbs (Lib Dem, Wash Common). “It includes losing huge companies like Pepsico and Bayer from Newbury.

“The problem we have is that we have the Conservatives in control and that is clearly bad for business.”