Wokingham Borough Council collects much more council tax per home than most councils in England, data recently published by the government suggests. It comes after the council cut £11 million from its budget in March and raised council tax by the maximum five per cent.

Data from Oflog – the government department responsible for councils – says Wokingham’s income from council tax per household is almost double the average for English councils.

It also says the total amount of money Wokingham can spend is well above that of similar councils. But the council says that relatively low government grant funding means it has to keep council tax high.

Imogen Shepherd-DuBey, the councillor responsible for finance, told the News: “Our core spending power is primarily made up of council tax income as we receive the least government grant per head of population in the UK.

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“This inadequate government funding means our residents are having to pay the highest percentage contribution towards keeping services running of any other unitary authority in the country.”

The data says that Wokingham’s council tax income last year worked out at £2,289 per home. That compares to the England average of £1,435 and £1,825 for similar councils.

It also says the council’s ‘core spending power’ per household – the amount it has to spend from all sources – was £2,213. The average for similar councils was £1,997 per home, while the average across England was £2,207.

Meanwhile, Oflog says the percentage that Wokingham spends on social services – 55 per cent – is lower than the average, 66 per cent.

However these figures only cover the 2021-22 financial year, making them two years out of date. Some 60 per cent of the council’s budget this year is to be spent on social services.

Councillor Shepherd-DuBey said: “The percentages we can spend on individual services like adult social care will be lower than other councils, with the lack of government grant meaning we must spread our limited funds across all services.”

But the Conservative Party has argued that the Liberal Democrat-led council’s higher than average spending power means measures such as increased parking charges are unjustified.

Conservative group leader councillor Pauline Jorgensen told the News that Wokingham has more to spend per household ‘than any other council in Berkshire except Slough and it is more than most unitary authorities in England.’

She said: “It increased this year by more than the average for England. Indeed, in the last two years, it’s gone up by £23.8 million. So it’s misleading of the Liberal Democrats to claim they don’t have any money.”

Meanwhile councillor Rachel Burgess – Labour group leader – said government grant cuts have left Wokingham ‘more reliant on council tax payers'.

She said: “The council’s net expenditure budget been cut by a whopping 50 per cent since 2010. In some areas it has given up completely in its desperate attempt to provide the bare minimum of the services it is legally required to provide.

“No serious observer would argue that central government funding is adequate.”