The council is set to borrow almost £50m less than it anticipated in the year, according to a prediction in a report produced for the authority.

Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) ‘capital financing requirement’ highlights the authority’s need to borrow for projects such as the town centre regeneration, future schemes and loans to companies.

At a meeting of the council’s top branch on Thursday, January 31, Cllr Anthony Pollock, the executive member for finance at WBC, said: “We have borrowed less in the first half of the year than we expected to the tune of £46m.”

The figures outlined in the report are a forecast, meaning they are subject to change.

In October, the Local Democracy Reporting Service reported that leader of the opposition Cllr Lindsay Ferris had written to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to outline his concerns at the rate at which the council was borrowing, suggesting that the authority could become like Northamptonshire County Council, which went bankrupt in autumn 2018.

Then, WBC’s ‘need to borrow’ was more than £270m but latest reports indicated that the authority had budgeted for a capital financing requirement of £377m.

But now forecasts show the council needs to borrow is £331m, £46m less than originally expected.

Councillor Philip Mirfin asked Cllr Pollock if he was comfortable with the rate at which the council was borrowing, to which Cllr Pollock indicated that he was.

After the meeting, Cllr Lindsay Ferris told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “There is some improvement but it is what i call a long way from reality. It is a false message to say they are borrowing £46m less as they never got around to doing some of the work in the first place.

“They are depressingly increasing the amount they are borrowing and moving from a low-borrowing authority to a high-borrowing authority.”

The report also indicated that the interest rate at which the council is borrowing money is expected to increase every few months up to September 2020.

Cllr Ferris added: “The more money the council borrows, the more expensive it is.

“The more the council borrows, the more debt it has.

“We’re going to have a huge bill because the interest will just keep going up and up and up. That is where I have got concerns.”

The report indicates that the council had not exceeded any of its limits for its financial strategy.

It read: “The Director of Corporate Services confirms that the approved limits within the Annual Investment Strategy were not breached during the first six months of 2018/19 and that no difficulties are envisaged for the remaining six months in complying with the prudential indicators.

“The Council is operating in a stringent financial climate, but is still managing to deliver within budgeted interest levels.”

However, Cllr Lindsay Ferris claimed: “They have a whole series of numbers and figures that the council has to adhere to. The council sets them themselves. They are going to set them at a figure that they know they are going to be achieving. It is a self-arrangement to say they are safe.

“What they are not taking into account is what is going to happen in the next few months. There is going to be a lot of uncertainty on the high street and with Brexit.”

Earlier in the meeting, Cllr Pollock had given updates on the council’s revenue and capital financial situations.

One report outlined overspends in adult social care and children’s services of more than £500,000 and £1.3m respectively.

He said: “I am pleased that a number of issues are being addressed, particularly with the adult social care overspend. There have been a few gremlins coming out of Wokingham Children’s Services too.

“Many of these issues are not unique to us - many other authorities are experiencing this across the country.

“We have issues in children’s services where care is very expensive. We have a growing older population who come to the council and say they haven’t got the money to pay the bills, so they look to the council to help them with the cost.”