Figures have revealed Slough is among the worst offenders for having the largest budget shortfall of any local authority in the country.

Data from the BBC’s Shared Data Unit showed a comparison among local authority areas as the collective blackhole in UK council finances has ballooned to a nationwide £5bn.

The cash-strapped Slough Borough Council was among the authorities shown to be facing the worst funding shortfalls, with £339m needed to balance its budget by 2025-26 representing 237.1 per cent of its net spend for 2023-24.

This ranked Slough as having the largest shortfall as a proportion of its budget, although Thurrock in Essex was estimated to have a worse cumulative sum at £521m.

Slough Borough Council leader Dexter Smith said: “The deficit reflects the capitalisation direction that we have with central government, and reflects the actions that we are taking through the asset sales to reduce the deficit over time.”

The research also noted that Slough is among the local authorities to have substantially raised council tax by 9.99 per cent in 2023-24.

The news comes amid major financial woes for Slough Borough Council, which effectively declared bankruptcy in 2021 after amassing more than £750m in borrowing debt.

Councillor Smith added: “The new administration remains focused on taking action to both make good asset sales to reduce the deficit, as well as managing the council’s day-to-day finances to live within its means.”

Head of local government at Unison Mike Short said: "Council finances are in the direst of states. As the government tightens the squeeze on local budgets, services either vanish or are scaled down dramatically.

"Cash-starved councils have had to go cap in hand to ministers for emergency support or raid already depleted reserves in a desperate attempt to balance the books.”

The BBC surveyed 190 local authorities across the country to assess the state of council finances.

The research revealed that councils would need to find £5.2bn to balance the books by April 2026, even after £2.5bn in cuts this year.

Local Government Association chair councillor Shaun Davies said: “Inflation the National Living Wage, energy costs and ongoing increasing demand for services are all adding billions of extra costs onto councils just to keep services standing still.

“Councils are having to make cutbacks to services to meet their legal duty to balance the books this year and using reserves to plug funding gaps.”

He added: “The Government needs to come up with a long-term plan to sufficiently fund local services.

“This must include greater funding certainty for councils through multi-year settlements and more clarity on financial reform so they can plan effectively, balance competing pressures across different service areas and maximise the impact of their spending.”

However, a spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “No decision on funding levels for beyond 2024-25 in England will be taken until the next Spending Review, so these numbers are unsupported.

“Councils in England have benefitted from an increase in Core Spending Power of up to £5.1 billion in 2023-24 compared to the previous year, with almost £60 billion made available for local government overall."