There are six Berkshire Unitary authorities – no county council – and as such we are more masters of our taxpayers’ destiny than many other authorities, despite being relatively poorly funded by central Government.
By looking carefully at lots of small savings (and we have spent many meetings doing just that) and also by being firm on the need to achieve a low tax settlement in the current economic climate, and because we believe in lower taxation in principle, a low tax settlement is what we have got.
When we took over in 2007 the previous LibDem Council’s financial strategy was to raise Council Tax by just under the capping level and they also said that "it is important that it [Council Tax] is used to generate the maximum amount of income possible".
Our approach has been the opposite – to aim to cut taxes, not increase them, without cuts to services. The benchmark September RPI which uplifts pensions and benefits was 5%. Our 1.9% , which should also bring us to be the lowest Band D rate in the country outside of a few London boroughs, is a 3.1% cut in real terms against that figure.
We’re protecting front line services, restructuring the Council to put
the right people in the right places, and implementing comprehensive
performance management techniques across the Council.
We are also looking to put into practice ‘best in class’ for ideas on
reducing tax, and on service delivery; we visited Wandsworth prior to
our election in 2007, and planned visits to both Hammersmith and Fulham
and East Hampshire are in the pipeline. Harry’s list is very
We want the very best for our residents, for the lowest Council Tax –
because it’s a big bill for many people, and we never forget that.
PS I’m also putting up the following motion to Council next week to
call for the implementation of financial transparency as suggested by
George Osborne and the Taxpayers Alliance, so residents can see where
the money goes, as well as what it costs. It’s the public’s money,
after all, not ours. We may also go as low as £1,000 if the systems can
This Council, believing in accountability to the taxpayer, notes the
recent campaign by the Taxpayers Alliance and George Osborne MP to
ensure greater disclosure of public finances: further notes that they
want to see revenue and capital items of expenditure £25,000 published.
This Council resolves to exceed this ambition by publishing as much
data of spending over £5,000 as is legally possible quarterly in
arrears; requests the Leader and Cabinet ensure that the information is
published in a timely fashion.