West Berks Budget 2021-22

The Liberal Democrat revenue budget amendments proposed for the 2021/22 budget are below. These would have been paid for using the current council underspend. 

By Area/Directorate:

1) People Directorate

A) Funding to allow Council Tax Relief for care leavers (on-going)
Cost £10,000
This will help eighteen to twenty one year old care leavers in West Berkshire to start to make their own way in the world by giving them
relief from Council Tax.

B) Funding for instrument loan for Maestros to supply instruments to all Y3 pupils in West Berks (on-going)
Cost £30,000
Playing a musical instrument brings many benefits to young children, and for some, leads to a life-long passion for amateur or even
professional performing arts. To nurture this we want every primary school child in West Berkshire to have the opportunity of learning to
play a musical instrument.

C) Freeze ASC personal fee increases for 2021/22 (on-going)
Cost £4,000
Many families have to contribute to the costs of relatives' care. The finances of many of those families are, or are likely to be, stretched
by reduced incomes due to furlough, redundancies, reduced hours or less overtime. This amendment is to ease the financial pressure on
these families.

D) Funding for Corn Exchange Learning Centre education program to support their children's and adults learning program (one off)
Cost £20,000
This will help people across West Berkshire overcome the isolation of the COVID lockdowns of the last year and to reduce the barrier of cost, this will help support the people of West Berkshire to participate in art learning programs provided by the Corn Exchange Learning Centre.

E) Community Support Fund – Arts and Culture (one off)
Cost £20,000
This will create a support fund for arts and culture sector within west Berkshire.

F) Funding to provide relief for town and parish councils to cover contributions for library services (on-going)
Cost £100,000
This will reduce the requirement for parish councils to pay to maintain a service which is the statutory function of West Berkshire to maintain.

G) Funding to provide Active Travel support for schools (on-going)
Cost £50,000 (officer)
To restore the School Travel Plans Officer post in the light of the increasing priority of Active Travel, linked to the public health, climate
emergency and sustainable travel agendas.

H) Funding for Berkshire Youth to allow the detached youth work in schools work to continue after funding from the PCC ends in March
2021 (on-going)
Cost £50,000
This will allow Berkshire Youth to continue to provide detached youth work in all schools in West Berkshire, by providing £50,000 to replace
the funding they are losing from the TV PCC. Without this funding being replaced, school children in West Berkshire will no longer benefit from
this youth work.

2) Place Directorate

A) West Berkshire becoming its own Power company (invest to save)
Cost £100,000
By becoming a supplier, we are able to take advantage of the higher revenue and so more environmental projects become affordable
whilst also contributing to the council’s revenue stream and gives us options to encourage businesses with West Berkshire. This funding
would provide for Feasibility studies to establish the business plan for major investment and return on that investment in future years.

B) Develop larger Solar Power generation facilities to provide energy for Council use and to sell to consumers/industry (one off)
Cost £100,000
The current plan is only 3-4% of what is needed in West Berkshire and we are therefore proposing to enlarge current activity to have a
chance of meeting the Council’s carbon reduction targets on time.

C) Introduce energy standard for all suppliers (carbon footprint) (taking into account their ability to do the work) - 2nd officer to help here (on-going)
Cost £50,000 (officer)
This will introduce a standard that can be built into tenders and RFPs that go to suppliers. Responses should then include details about
critical elements that allow the council to evaluate suppliers for their green credentials. This ensures suppliers have environmental
concerns front and centre when responding to such opportunities.

D) Power from water (rivers and canals) (Kennet, Dunn and Lambourn) Initial Projects run in conjunction with NTC as locations previously established plus (one off)
Cost £150,000
To undertake a Feasibility study and develop a Business Plan for future years with all costings; looking at micro hydro schemes across the Council that take only 6% of space compared to equivalent sized energy schemes using solar.

E) Green hubs adjunct to community hub (consumer & business focus) 2nd additional officer to also help here plus some KPI’s from other Officers
Cost £50,000(officer)
As expertise grows within the council this aims to embed the sharing of that expertise with consumers and business.

F) Viable villages (investigation of what needs to change to make West Berks villages viable long term) 2nd additional officer to also help here.
Cost £40,000(officer)
To work with every village within West Berkshire to understand what’s needed to make their village viable in the longer term - in areas such as
community mix , energy supplies, and housing.

G) Remove the green bin charge for those in receipt of Council Tax benefits.
Cost £100,000
Roughly 5,500 homes. We assume an uptake of around one third of these households at a cost of £50 each, meaning a total cost of £92,000
but we allow more than this within this cost allocation. (on-going)

H) Create taxi recovery fund – so no license fee. (One off – one year)
Cost £40,000
To provide support to Taxi drivers so that we maintain an active rank.

I) Do not delete Enforcement Officer as planned by Administration (Place D&P E4)
Cost £30,000
Public perception that planning enforcement is extremely ineffective, risks undermining support for whole planning system. Instead of cutting a post,
this would urgently review processes, work more closely with parish councils and boost resources.

J) Reintroduce Planning letters to neighbours – 0.8 FTE plus postage costs (on-going)
Cost £40,000
This would form part of the effort to boost public confidence in the planning system. The Council should investigate use of case officer or
parish councils for hand delivery of letters to save postage costs.

K) Allow for more community speed reviews by increasing officers to carry out assessments 0.5 FTE (on-going)
Cost £25,000
Boost public confidence in highway safety and help encourage increases in Active Travel.

L) Town Centre Refurbishment Plans – Thatcham, Theale, Hungerford
Cost £150,000 (additional to budget papers)
This will give our towns the opportunity to create a sense of ‘place’ within their centres, helping them to remain viable as shopping habits change.

3) Resource Directorate

A) Green Bins – reduce charge to provide a £2 discount (becomes £48) for the lack of collection in January 2021 (one off)
Cost £46,000
This would reduce the green bin charge to £48 per year for next year.

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