THE cash-strapped council is proposing to increase council tax by 2.99 per cent as part of the budget plan for the next three years.

Reading Borough Council (RBC) has implemented more than £25m of savings since April 2017 and continues to face financial pressures.

The proposed increase, the lowest since 2016, would work out as 91p per week for a Band D council tax payer.

Spending plans for the next three years have also be outline in the capital programme, which is funded separately from the main budget.

Jo Lovelock, leader of RBC, said: “The council is now in a more stable budget position as a result of difficult decisions on savings and a huge amount of work.

"We are making better use of our buildings, increasing the use of technology and finding new ways to increase income. Much progress has been made, but there remains a long way to go.

"Councils are still being forced to make savings and increase income in order to balance their budgets and protect public services. Nobody likes raising the council tax, but at least this year’s rise is the lowest since 2016.

“Councils are expected to make a three-year plan, which we have done, but inevitably things will change next year when we finally see what the Government is planning.”

In Reading, Government funding has continued to decline and it is expect to disappear altogether next year.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has estimated that councils will have lost nearly 60p out of every £1 the Government provided between 2010 and 2020.

Meanwhile, the capital programme – funded by a combination of grants and borrowing – has set out a number of projects to be undertaken.

This includes spending £30.5m on leisure facilities throughout the borough, with two new swimming pools.

There will also be £75m spent on building new housing and a further £15m on the new Green Park Railway Station.

Lord Porter, LGA chairman, said: “The money local government has to provide vital services is running out fast and huge uncertainty remains about how councils will pay for services into the next decade and beyond.

“If the Government fails to adequately fund local government then it will be our local communities and economies who will suffer the consequences.

"It will be those who rely on vital adult social care to live independent lives, rural bus routes to get out and about, council tax support to ease financial burdens and those who value clean streets, green spaces and roads fit for the purpose."