From the Council Leader - Helping now and in the future

25 Feb 2024
Stephen Conway headshot

Over the last two years, Wokingham Borough Council has seen its costs rise enormously, as inflation has increased and demand for statutory services, especially in adult and children’s social care, has grown. The inflation that is hitting the council hard is also affecting our residents, pushing many into great hardship. Significant numbers of people in the borough need help from the council to manage a daily struggle with physical or mental health challenges. In these most testing of times for councils across the country, Wokingham is further hampered by receiving the lowest level of government core funding of any council in England with responsibility for adult and children’s social care.

Two imperatives have guided us through the current financial crisis for local government. First, the need to use our very limited resources to help those most in need, and second, the requirement to lay the foundations for a better future for our borough.

Let me give you some examples of what we have done. We have acquired a new care home to increase our own provision for the elderly and infirm. We are converting some of the council’s own office buildings to give the homeless a roof over their head and provide accommodation for care leavers. We are increasing the number of places within the borough for children with special educational needs, mainly through the delivery of two new schools. We are working alongside our partners in the voluntary and charitable sector to support local people during the current cost-of-living crisis. We are putting more money into adult and children’s social care, to reduce the pressure on their overstretched budgets.

These initiatives will not only give help to those who need it most, in many cases they will also help the council limit its future costs.

Our new care home will not only increase our capacity to deliver care for the elderly but will also help us to control future adult social care costs. Our using some of the council’s buildings to help house the homeless will reduce the bill for expensive emergency bed and breakfast accommodation. Our investment in new Special Educational Needs schools will increase in-borough provision and so reduce the costs of home-to-school transport.

In a similarly forward-looking way, which will save money in the long term, we have invested in our mainstream schools to allow them to expand, which will not only give the borough’s young people the education they deserve but also reduce pressure on the home-to-school transport budget, which has grown enormously in recent years. We have invested in a new solar farm at Barkham, which will connect to the grid in 2026, helping with our climate emergency agenda while generating a healthy income for the council – an income which we can spend on improved services for residents.

Your council, in short, is doing all it can to help those who need help most, while at the same time working to ensure the council’s finances are put on a secure long-term footing and that we all have a more sustainable and better future.

This website uses cookies

Like most websites, this site uses cookies. Some are required to make it work, while others are used for statistical or marketing purposes. If you choose not to allow cookies some features may not be available, such as content from other websites. Please read our Cookie Policy for more information.

Essential cookies enable basic functions and are necessary for the website to function properly.
Statistics cookies collect information anonymously. This information helps us to understand how our visitors use our website.
Marketing cookies are used by third parties or publishers to display personalized advertisements. They do this by tracking visitors across websites.