A THREE month public consultation exercise on a major package of saving, efficiency and income proposals opens today (Friday July 24).
Reading Borough Council estimates it needs to save a further £39 million between now and 2019. That is because since 2013/14 the Government has cut Reading’s grant funding by 40%. The cuts to funding are taking place at a time when demand for local Council services in Reading is increasing.
The Council has already made savings of nearly £57 million since 2011. At a meeting of Policy Committee on Monday this week (July 20), the Council agreed a further £7.24 million worth of savings for public consultation.
Residents, local organisations and businesses can get more detail on the individual budget proposals and have their say at www.reading.gov.uk/budget.
Hard copies of the proposals will also be available in Council buildings. The consultation runs until 5pm on Friday October 16. Outcomes of the consultation will then be reported back to the relevant Council Committee for consideration through the Autumn and Winter.
The proposed £7.24 million saving, efficiency and income package (July 2015) forms part of an on-going public consultation exercise, as Reading Borough Council works to address the £39 million budget gap. Even if all of the proposed savings were agreed following consultation, it would still leave the Council having to find £31.76 million by 2019.
Jo Lovelock, Reading Borough Council Leader, said:
“Since 2011 this Council has made major savings whilst avoiding impacting on frontline services as much as possible, but the scale of the Government cuts we are now facing is unprecedented for Reading. By 2019 Reading Borough Council will have taken an estimated £100 million out of its budget. You cannot do that without impacting on people and organisations in the town.
“Over the next three years this Council needs to build a series of budgets against the backdrop of continuing Government cuts, and at a time of increasing demand for Council services. The £7.24 million package of savings agreed at Policy Committee earlier this week form the first phase of those proposals.
“We have published and are consulting on these proposals at an early stage so that the people they affect – whether local residents, voluntary groups or organisations – have the opportunity to comment and have their say.”
Reading Borough Council has made savings of nearly £57 million since 2011. In that time the Council workforce has been cut by more than 600 posts. Savings have also been achieved by finding more efficient ways of working, including making better use of technology. The process of identifying further efficiencies will now continue over the next three years.
The Council is considering a number of options to fill the estimated budget gap. Some of the savings will be delivered by changing the way the Council deliver services, and where they are delivered from. In some cases that will mean making better use of Council buildings and increasing income.
People can have their say on the July 2015 budget proposals at www.reading.gov.uk/budget where they will find the individual proposals.
Hard copies of the proposals will be made available to view at Council buildings, including libraries, leisure centres and at the Civic Offices. For those without access to computers, people can write in with their feedback to Budget Consultation, Reading Borough Council, Civic Offices, Bridge Street, Reading RG1 2LU. The individual budget proposal (or proposals) being commented on should be clearly identified. Alternatively, people can email in with their views to firstname.lastname@example.org, again clearly identifying the relevant budget proposal/s they are commenting on.