MORE than £3million of cuts have been announced to public services in West Berkshire in the next financial year.

West Berkshire Council has proposed £3.24 million of savings and income generation, which will include making staff redundant. 

The cuts include funding for mental health, people with learning disabilities, and free school buses

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Councillor Ross Mackinnon (Con, Bradfield), lead for finance, said: “It’s a different flavour of savings to what we have seen in the past, and much less than previous years.”

He said “for the first time in a while”, the council is not making substantial savings, and residents should not expect an “impact on frontline services”. 

The proposals were announced as part of the council’s revenue budget, which was published on February 5. They were detailed in a report to the executive, which will meet on February 13. 

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According to that report, the savings include £204,000 from reviewing care packages for people with learning disabilities, £200,000 from reviewing funding for people with mental health needs, and £45,000 from reducing staff numbers for early years and family hubs. 

Also, £100,000 of savings are planned from withdrawing some free school buses. Melanie Ellis, chief accountant, said in the budget report: “If walking routes can be deemed available and safe, free transport can be withdrawn.”

Elsewhere, the council is planning on saving:

  • £20,000 from restructuring staffing at Castle Gate, which cares for children with learning disabilities, involving potential redundancies
  • £15,000 from “lower levels of illumination” of lampposts
  • £10,000 from reducing the budget for repairs and maintenance at Shaw House
  • £6,000 from no longer cleaning and maintaining bus shelters at Beenham Turn, Theale and Calcot.

In income generation, an anticipated increase in the number of people paying the green bin charge is expected to raise an extra £110,000. 

The overall target for savings and income generation is less than in previous years:

  • £6.24 million in 2019–20
  • £5.2 million in 2018–19
  • £4.7 million in 2017–18
  • £14 million in 2016–17.

The cuts in 2016–17 were the highest in the history of the council, when 127 employees were at risk of redundancy.