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West Berkshire Council Budget Challenge

Take the challenge to balance the budget

Consultation status Archived
Start date: 2021-10-18
End date: 2021-11-28
Results 2022-02-10
Category: Adult Care and Housing, Business and Jobs, Planning and Building, Your West Berkshire, Caring for Children and Families, Consumer and Environmental Protection, Leisure, Parks and Countryside, Roads, Transport and Parking, Rubbish and Recycling, Schools, Learning and Libraries, Tax and Benefits

Activity closed


Last year, we gave you the opportunity to understand the pressures we face when setting our budget by asking you to set a budget using our online simulator. For 2021/22, we remained focused on frontline services, so that we could keep providing those that are important to the district.

We had a great response from you and lots of good ideas on how to balance the budget, so we're running the 'Budget Challenge' this year too.

We're setting you the challenge of balancing our 2022/23 budget, which we've estimated to be £147m. We're asking you to work out how you would divide the budget between core services, such as Learning and Libraries, Rubbish and Recycling, and Social Care, and close a gap of £9m between the income we receive and the money we need to spend.

Our budget simulator is easy to use. It allows you to increase or decrease spending across council services, and see the consequences of your choices. Some of our services, such as Social Care, are there to support vulnerable people, and so the budget cannot be reduced by large amounts, as those people that rely upon these vital services would be badly affected. Also, we can only put Council Tax up by a maximum of 2% for core services and a further 3% for Adult Social Care. Any more than that and we'd have to hold a formal referendum, which could cost up to £250k, and the result might be that residents don't want to raise Council Tax any higher than 5%.

Wherever you choose to spend or save, the overall budget has to balance. The choice is yours to make.

You can view the Icon for pdf Frequently Asked Questions [25.69KB] from the last challenge online. We'll update these during the challenge, if needed.

How to take part

Take the challenge online.

If you have any questions about the simulator, please contact

The challenge is open until midnight on Sunday, 28 November 2021.

Councillor Ross Mackinnon, our Executive Member for Finance and Joseph Holmes, Executive Director (Resources), will be online to answer your questions about our budget, and to tell you more about how we've been spending your money this year, and our plans for 2022/23.

Join Ross and Joseph live on Facebook at 6.30pm on Monday, 7 February 2022. 

If you have any questions in advance, please email them to

What happens next

Once the challenge has closed, we will look at where you chose to spend your budget, and use this to help inform how we set budgets in the future.

The budget for 2022/23 will be considered and approved by elected members at the Council meeting on Thursday, 3 March 2022.

What you told us

98 people took the challenge.Overall, the average Council Tax rise proposed was 4.7%, split between Council Tax income and the Adult Social Care precept. 

The summary of the proposals in service areas was for a higher area of budget protection for "People" services, Adult and Children Social Care, and to a lesser extent Education, with a lower level of protection for customer services and economic development and regeneration.

What we did

The responses have been considered at a summary level, and broadly align with the council’s proposals. Since the budget challenge was launched, there was additional funding through the draft Local Government Finance Settlement that would have made it easier to balance the budget.

The full report and budget papers can be viewed online as Item 12 - Revenue Budget 2022-23, appendix L, on the agenda for the Executive meeting being held on 10 February 2022.

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