An ‘exceptional’ bailout is needed from the government to stop the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead going bankrupt, it has been announced.

Senior councillors and finance bosses at the council have said they are finding new holes in previous years’ budgets.

Lynne Jones – the councillor in charge of finance – said the council is ‘fighting against 12 years of neglect’ in its spending.

The Royal Borough announced on Wednesday, May 22, that it is in talks with the government for ‘exceptional financial support’. This is when a council received a short term loan from the government which it then pays back using the proceeds of asset sales.

READ MORE: Windsor and Maidenhead council plans property sales to stave off bankruptcy

The council had already warned last year that it was at risk of effectively declaring bankruptcy – meaning government-appointed commissioners would be sent to take charge.

But in a statement on Wednesday it said it had found more historical costs that hadn’t been included in previous years’ budgets. It suggested these will be paid for using the council’s reserves – pots of savings used for additional costs.

The council pointed to council tax cuts, rising debt and government funding cuts as factors behind its financial woes.

It said: “The council’s financial challenges are well documented and due in large part to historical local and national decisions going back many years.

“Year-on-year reductions to council tax for a period of six years from 2010 have left the council’s budget £30m lower than if council tax had risen in line with average increases across the country.

“At the same time, the council’s debt increased from £58.7m in 2014 to £204m by March 2023, during the time when Government funding to local authorities was cut by 30 per cent.”

The announcement came as the Royal Borough’s cabinet – its leading group of councillors – met on Wednesday evening.

Councillor Jones told the meeting: “It has been massively frustrating that the financial process we inherited were not robust.”

“We have higher inflation and interest on the circa £200 million debt in place since 2019 has risen to over £13 million annually.” She said the council’s budget for the current year was still ‘robust’.

But she added: “We are currently undertaking a full reconciliation of bank accounts and balance sheet accounts that have not taken place for multiple years and finding errors of a magnitude that throw the opening reserves balance of £10 million into question.

At the same meeting the council agreed to begin marketing properties it owns on Reform Road in Maidenhead. It says that if it agrees sales, it hopes to raise some £10 million to bolster its finances.