Reading Conservatives have today described the Conservative-Lib Dem Coalition budget as one for fairness and prudence. The coalition parties pledged to freeze Council Tax in Reading after 20+ years of Labour increases and the Budget passed by the Council tonight achieved that freeze. With inflation now at 4% this is a real-terms cut for Reading Council Tax payers. This will deliver much needed relief for many people on low and fixed incomes.
The Budget also delivered an increase in money going to the voluntary sector, with the budget for Readibus protected, £200,000 for the African and Caribbean community to refurbish the Central Club, £48,000 for the Nepalese community, and a new pot of £100,000 for groups to bid to for capital projects. In all, the Voluntary Sector will receive around £7m from the Coalition budget.
The Budget removes the grant of money which Labour had provided to the Trades Unions to fund three full time posts from Council Tax, valued at £1.4m over the last 12 years; it provides £50,000 next year to continue the tree planting programme; extends library opening hours; and protects budgets for schools.
Cllr Andrew Cumpsty, Leader of Reading Borough Council, said: “In a difficult financial environment we have succeeded in protecting frontline services and the voluntary sector. Labour said it couldn’t be done but we have frozen Council Tax and put the Council’s finances on a sounder basis. This is a budget which delivers fairness and prudence while tackling many of the problems left to us by Labour."
Finance Lead Cllr David Stevens said “We have built this budget from the bottom up and delivered a freeze in Council Tax for our hard pressed residents. By contrast we have costed all of Labour’s spending commitments and they would need to increase Council Tax by 30% to balance the books.”