A COUNCIL tax increase of 4.99 per cent has moved a step closer to the final sign-off as senior Slough councillors approve final budget proposals.

Cabinet members agreed to their final recommendations to full council on February 22 (Monday).

The 2021/22 budget includes a 4.99 council tax increase, three per cent of which will be ring-fenced for adult social care, which is the maximum allowed by central government without holding a referendum.

Councillor James Swindlehurst (Lab: Cippenham Green), the leader of the council, defended the spike, saying around two-thirds of English local authorities are bumping their council tax to the maximum allowed.

He said: “We’re not an outlier in doing this. We’re not setting our council tax increase or precept higher than most other authorities because everyone I think is in a similarly tight position after the Covid pandemic.”

READ MORE: How Slough Council is myth busting Covid vaccine misinformation

James Swindlehurst

James Swindlehurst

The revenue budget – which covers day-to-day services such as waste management, adult social care, etc. – amounts to over £123 million.

This part of the budget is funded by council tax, business rates, commercial investments, and grant funding from central government.

The capital budget will be set to over £100 million for 2021/22 and covers new investments or building projects, including major infrastructure projects, new schools, environmental initiatives, etc.

As previously reported, Slough Borough Council saw a £10 million funding gap in this year’s budget due to Covid-19 pressures and two one-off repayments.

READ MORE: Slough Council would've had 'very low reserves' if government didn't step in

This includes owing a company in the borough £5.3 million in business rates and the Slough Children’s Services Trust’s debt of £5.5 million.

However, Cllr Swindlehurst said they have been in discussions with the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government and are ‘likely’ to be given £12.2 million in a capitalisation directive.

This means the council will be granted greater flexibility to use capital funds to fill this gap - which could result in selling off a few of their assets.

The 2020/21 budget will be debated and voted at a full council meeting on March 8.