READING faces the second biggest cut to council finances in Berkshire - and the biggest in cash terms.

The cut in the council's 'revenue spending power', taking into account all the various grants from Government, the council tax freeze and a new scheme in which NHS funding has been redirected towards social care, is £6.2m next year, or 4.26%.

Asked about job cuts and the impact on specific departments, borough finance leader Cllr David Stevens said: "We will start making announcements in January."

He said the council had been slower than its neighbours in making such announcements because it relies more on Government grants and less on council tax, meaning its future finances were more in doubt.

The cuts were "slightly better" than expected, he said, because council officials had assumed more of the cuts would be "front-loaded" into the early years of this Parliament.

He added: "A lot of hard work has been going on behind the scenes to anticipate this, to make savings and we are coming up with a plan that protects the most vulnerable."

Communities secretary Eric Pickles promised the cuts would be based on how needy a district is, but wealthy Wokingham has ended up with one of the smallest cuts in the country, at just £0.7m, or 0.63%. Its funding per head is low, however, at just £125 compared to £1,043 in Hackney, east London.

Leader of the opposition Lib Dems in Wokingham borough, Cllr Prue Bray, said: "As the reduction is so small, there is no need for swingeing service cuts or huge hikes in what people have to pay for those services. So if the Conservatives in Wokingham produce a budget for next year which includes either wholesale cuts or steep increases in charges, Wokingham residents will know who to blame: local Tories."

But council leader David Lee said cuts to other grants meant the situation is "as bad as it could be". He said: "In reality, we have had £2.7m taken from us."

West Berkshire's cut is also below the national 4.4% average, at 2.04% - £2.7m in cash terms.

Executive councillor Keith Chopping, said: "It appears the challenge for next year is going to be greater than anticipated, but this council has a good track record of handling difficult financial situations. We dealt efficiently with grant reductions in June this year, and we are conscientiously planning for the budget reductions that will be needed as we look further ahead.

"The system of government grants is somewhat complex, and we will not know exactly what is needed until we have the further detailed information from the Government, and analysed the figures."

District councils across the country are facing bigger cuts than unitary authorities, and South Oxfordshire is no different. Its spending power has been cut by £1m, or 5.29%. Oxfordshire County Council's cut is only 1.87%.

Royal Berkshire Fire Authority's cut is also small, at £0.2m, or 0.52%.

Revenue spending power cuts in Berkshire:


2010/11 £146.7m

2011/12 £140.4m

Cut - 4.26%


2010/11 £124.9m

2011/12 £118.9m

Cut - 4.86%

West Berkshire

2010/11 £129.8m

2011/12 £127.1m

Cut - 2.04%


2010/11 £117.9m

2011/12 £117.2m

Cut - 0.63%

Windsor and Maidenhead

2010/11 £99.3m

2011/12 £98.3m

Cut - 1.06%

Bracknell Forest

2010/11 £94m

2011/12 £91.7m

Cut - 2.54%