BRACKNELL Forest taxpayers will see their council tax bills increase by almost four per cent next year.

This means the average band D tax-paying resident will pay £1,355 a year — the equivalent of an additional £1 per week.

Before pointing out Bracknell Forest Council (BFC) has one of the lowest council tax rates in the country for an authority of its size, leader Paul Bettison (Conservative) said: “I would love to be saying we are not increasing council tax but sadly that is not practical.”

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Labour’s Tricia Brown, however, said the council tax increase was “badly needed” by the council but “will be a huge blow for many residents whose pay will not have increased much in the last few years.”

The 3.99 per cent rise will add an extra £2.4 million to Bracknell Forest Council’s (BFC) coffers, with money used to pay for its day-to-day services.

Bracknell News:

Two per cent of the increase channels money directly to funding adult social care, which takes up a third of BFC’s revenue budget.

Another 20 per cent funds children’s services at the council and budget documents show the authority will likely spend an extra £6.4 million on social care across both departments this coming year.

This comes against planned savings of more than £1.4 million across social services.

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Conservative councillor Peter Heydon, BFC’s finance boss, said the authority was "efficient and effective" with its spending plans.

He added: “Over half of our budget goes towards supporting vulnerable people.

“It is no exaggeration to say that the 2020/2021 budget is the most challenging we have had for some time.”

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Labour councillor Mary Temperton responded to the council tax increase included in budget plans by hitting out at a lack of central government support for local authorities.

This came after she pointed out how 60p from every £1 given to councils for services has been cut since 2010.

She said: “The tightness of the funding and the huge pressures to maintain frontline services, especially for adult and children’s services — with their increased expenditure of £6 million — means there is very little room for manoeuvre.

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“Expecting local government to finance the care crisis through raising council tax cannot be the best solution, nor sustainable in the long term, but it is all there is right now.”

BFC’s budget was passed after Conservative councillors voted for the plans and Labour members abstained.

The Liberal Democrats’ Thomas Parker was unable to attend the budget meeting, held at Time Square on Thursday, February 26.