A HIKE in garden waste charges is set to bring in more than £400,000 to the council this year at the expense of residents who see the additional charge as "cash grab".

Reading Borough Council followed other authorities by introducing discretionary charges for green bins and more recently increased the charge by 20 per cent to £60.

Figures suggest the cash-strapped council will make around £1.1m in profit in the first three years of the scheme.

Caversham resident Jason Collie has described this as "cynical" and a "cash cow" - arguing the more deprived residents would struggle to justify the added expense.

He said: “We know the council claims it is struggling financially, but look at how much it is taking from a small number of residents in just three years.

"Councillors have decided this is an easy cash cow to milk and they are doing it relentlessly."

Green waste collection in Reading used to be free for people who had paid the council for their green bins.

However, in 2017 the council introduced £50 charges for green bins and £15 for green bags for the first time, claiming it needed to cover the £300,000 cost of green waste collections.

Mr Collie added: “Councillors and council officers knew within weeks of beginning to charge in 2017 that not only were they covering costs, they were banking a huge profit.

“Councillors with integrity would have cut rather than increased charges because if the general tax payer should not be subsidising this service, it cannot be right and proper for this scheme to then be used to prop up other council services.

“And to then hit up struggling families with a 20 per cent hike this year is a cynical and naked cash grab. It is nothing but a stealth tax on people trying to do the right thing and claiming otherwise is dishonest.”

The council responded to the claims by saying any surplus revenue from the scheme was used to offset the cost of the operation of domestic waste services in Reading.

A spokesman added: "We are pleased that so many Reading householders continue to enjoy the convenience of the council’s garden waste collection service.

"This year’s subscription increased in line with the council budget agreed in January 2018. The council reviews all fees and charges on an annual basis, which includes benchmarking with other local authorities."