SLOUGH Borough Council has urged the government to allow them to sell some of their assets in order to fill a £10 million black hole and balance their 2021/22 budget.

According to their revenue budget papers, the council is currently in talks with the government about seeking permission for a ‘capitalisation directive’ – effectively giving them greater flexibility to use capital funds for day-to-day spending.

The council boiled why they are seeing a £10 million funding hole in their budget down to three reasons.

One of which, like most local authorities, is the impact of Covid-19 in income and growth pressures.

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Another is a one-off cost of £5.4 million in business rates to a company in the borough owed since 2010.

The Slough Children’s Services Trust deficit of £5.5 million is still a threat to the council if they switch to a different operating model next year – but talks are still ongoing with the Department for Education to fill this gap.

The council has almost £100 million worth of assets purchased and is eyeing selling them off to fund this gap.

Some of those at-risk include the Odeon cinema in Basingstoke, Halfords on Bath Road and Wickes in Wolverhampton, among many others.

The council owned Odeon Cinema in Basingstoke

The council owned Odeon Cinema in Basingstoke

It’s expected the government will permit the council funds of £12.2 million in revenue spend to balance their 2021/22 budget.

An external advisor to the government said: “The council has limited resources in terms of revenue reserves to balance the 21/22 revenue budget. Without the two unexpected items in terms of business rates and the children’s trust the budget would have been balanced.”

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In the medium-term financial strategy, finance officers have warned the council the budget gap could rise to £19.8 million by 2023/24.

In Slough Borough Council’s budget, a council tax increase is also proposed of 4.99 per cent – which means a band D property could see a £70.83 spike.

The budget will go to an extraordinary scrutiny meeting this Thursday – before it goes to cabinet to finalise their recommendations.

It will then go to full council on March 8 for debate and vote.