COUNCIL tax could be increased by the maximum amount despite initial indications that the rise would be kept to a minimum.

The 2018/19 budget proposes a council tax increase of 5.99 per cent for households in Bracknell Forest.

The increase comprises a 2.99 per cent general increase in council tax and a further three per cent increase to alleviate adult social care pressures.

The council admits that it can not afford to continue delivering its services in the same way but has promised that no existing facilities will close.

The increase would mean an extra £1.38 for a Band D property – generating more than £3million.

But this is millions of pounds off the mark – and so the council must look to make ‘further changes’ to the way it operates.

One such change is that external operators will take control of the management of leisure facilities from next month.

In an interview with the News in December 2017, councillor Paul Bettison OBE, leader of Bracknell Forest Council, said: “Just because we can increase council tax by more than a very small amount, doesn’t mean we want to do it.”

However, the maximum possible yearly council tax increase now looks set to go ahead.

Cllr Bettison added: “In line with other local authorities, Bracknell Forest is facing real financial challenges.

“As always, we will address these in a measured way, recognising that there is no simple solution.

“We have a council-wide transformation programme in place to bring about positive change and efficiencies for residents and our services and we are making real progress with this. We cannot continue doing everything the same way and there will be different ways of accessing services, in particular making more use of technology where it makes sense to do so.”

The council has blamed the reduction of government grants and the rising cost of social care for the tax increase Councillor Peter Heydon, executive member for transformation and finance said: “We have been left with no choice other than to increase council tax to meet our legal responsibility to set a balanced budget.

Despite the increase proposed, the level of council tax in Bracknell Forest is set to remain the second lowest of any unitary authority in England.”

The proposals are likely to be discussed at full council on February 28.