Berkshire

Reading council tax rise approved

Reading's Civic Centre
Image caption The 2013-14 budget includes cutting 90 council posts

Council tax in Reading is to increase by 1.9% following a budget meeting of the borough council.

The council said the rise was part of a bid to save £13.4m following a fall in the grant from central government.

The budget includes cutting 90 council posts. The authority said it hoped to "minimise" compulsory redundancies.

The Labour-run council said the aim was to "protect vital services and those people most in need" but the budget was criticised by opposition parties.

Among the budget measures are a reduction in council tax benefit, increased fees and charges for services and integrating the council's mental health team with Berkshire Hospital Foundation Trust.

The Liberal Democrat group abstained from the vote and leader Daisy Benson tweeted: "Yes to protecting vital services, no to hitting Reading's poorest residents via Labour's council tax benefit cut."

Conservative leader Tim Harris said it was "Labour's ideology to raise tax" and claimed "it was a question of political priorities" which was dictating council spending.

The cost of a band D property in the town will go up from £1,498 to £1,531 per year in council tax.

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