Bracknell council tax frozenBy Becky Barnes
December 13, 2012
Council tax for Bracknell Forest will be frozen for the third consecutive year after borough council bosses promised to keep costs down.
Bracknell Forest Council announced the cut at its executive meeting on Tuesday and will accept a Government grant to allow it to freeze its precept in February’s budget.
Councillor Alan Ward, executive vice-chairman, said: “I can guarantee residents they will not be receiving a rise in council tax bills this year which is for the third year running.”
He said for those not receiving a pay rise or more benefits in the next year the savings would make a real difference and was real money.
He added taking the Government grant isn’t without problems and the council manages its affairs to make it possible to freeze the precept.
Executive members also approved proposals for the 2013/2014 budget, which will be finalised in February next year.
People can have their say on a summary of the proposals and more detailed plans for the council’s capital programme and general fund revenue budget for six weeks.
Timothy Wheadon, council chief executive, explained there was more ‘uncertainty’ than usual around the central Government support for local councils in the next year because of proposed changes to the funding regime and the function of local authorities.
Major changes include the localisation of business rates, the need to make a localised council tax benefit scheme by January 31, 2013, and the transfer of public health responsibilities from the NHS.
Mr Wheadon added that the proposed budget recognised these ‘uncertainties’ and increased demand for council services.
He added: “There is a focus on schemes that will facilitate the regeneration of Bracknell town centre, including highway schemes and plans for Time Square.”
The report sets aside £3 million to move staff from three council sites to the Time Square building and £2.5m has been allocated to improve infrastructure, including the Twin Bridges roundabout.
A further £2m is planned for affordable housing and £2m for highway improvements. The report includes proposals for £383,000 to care for vulnerable young people and £480,000 for adult social care.
The council also plans to increase its contingency from £1 million to £2 million to safeguard against the level of risk in this year’s budget and has £9.9 million in reserves.
The budget also outlines ways it will save money and how it anticipates additional income.
Cllr Ward concluded: “It is questionable whether the final budget will look like this.
“We have looked very carefully at the budget and undertaken intensive work to save money, which has been made more difficult this year because of the uncertainty because of the review of Government expenditure.
“With the balances we have accumulated, unless there is a disaster beyond expectations, we are not going to have to take panic measures in January.”
The budget can be viewed at www.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/budgetconsultation and comments can be emailed to the treasurer on firstname.lastname@example.org or sent to Borough Treasurer, Bracknell Forest Council, Easthampstead House, Town Square, Bracknell, RG12 1AQ.