Tuesday 13 March 2012

Baseless Financial Claims

Leader of Reading Borough Council Cllr Jo Lovelock has made some far-fetched claims in her time.  A recent favourite she often makes, both in meetings and in Labour literature, is her claim that Reading has suffered worse cuts from central government than Wokingham.  However the facts show that not only is Reading’s formula grant more than 2½ times that received by Wokingham, but that despite having a larger population, Conservative-run Wokingham BC has suffered a bigger percentage cut than Reading.

Consistently Wokingham BC has received one of the smallest grants in the country from central government, leaving a larger share of its budget to be taken from local Council Tax payers.  A Reading resident receives £326 (formula grant of £50.266 m divided by 154,200 population) from central government whereas a Wokingham BC resident receives just £112 (formula grant of £18.240 m divided by 163,200 population). 

Cllr Tim Harris, Conservative Group Leader said, “It is imperative the public have both complete transparency from and confidence in the controlling administration.  Reading is a very different borough to Wokingham, with very different funding requirements, so regular comparisons are not helpful.  In spite of the regular spin trotted out at council meetings and press releases, it’s clear from these figures that Reading gets significantly more funding, and had a smaller cut.  Our Group will continue both to highlight inconsistencies such as this and lobby central government to maximise the funding available to our Borough.”

Residents can judge for themselves.  By the way the population figures (2010) are from the Office of National Statistics.  

I doubt an apology will be forthcoming from Labour: however in light of the above I’ll be interested to see if they continue repeating their baseless financial claims.