Wigan council tax expected to increase by around 3 pc to plug £9m budget gap

Council tax is expected to increase by around 3 pc from April in Wigan.

Wigan council is considering raising the adult social care precept by 1 pc together with an increase in the council general tax levy of around 2 pc.

It comes as the local authority looks for savings of £9m as it prepares a budget for the next year, having previously planned to freeze council tax until 2025.

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But Wigan council leader David Molyneux said he is ‘quite confident’ a council tax hike would mean no cuts to services or job losses in the next financial year.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, he said the town hall ‘fully understands’ the pressures on residents hit by the cost of living crisis.

However, he said the government expects councils to raise money in this way.

Council Leader David Molyneux

He said: “We want to ensure that, certainly for people working in the authority, there’s no job losses and no cuts to services.

“People are facing additional financial pressures. To think, if we had social service cuts, children services cuts, everything else cut, the pressure would have been even greater.

“The council tax allows us to maintain services to the level which are in a good place. That’s what we intend to do.”

The Labor leader said the council tax hike will raise around £3.5m next year.

This will offset some of the £9m that the town hall needs to find in savings of which £5m is caused by cost pressures in social care and £4m by inflation.

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The council’s energy costs are expected to go up by 70 pc next year while the general rate of inflation will be around 7 pc, according to the latest estimates.

More cash will be pumped into the town hall’s failing children services department, with a £20m investment planned over the next three years.

And reserves could be used to ‘smooth over’ some shortfalls in the budget.

Deputy chief executive Paul McKevitt explained that by not raising council tax in line with government guidance, the local authority would be putting itself in a worse position if it were to ask for more funding in future financial years.

He said: “With pressures of £9m each year, and on the back of cutting £160m, where do you go?”

Joseph Timan, Local Democracy Reporter for Salford and Wigan at the Manchester Evening News

Jo is a Local Democracy Reporter covering councils, the NHS and other local authorities in Manchester and Greater Manchester. He has previously covered local government in Bolton, Bury, Salford and Wigan.

You can read more of his stories here and follow him on social media on Facebook or Twitter.

If you want to contact Jo directly, you can email him at [email protected]

Around 66 pc of the council’s £255m budget is spent on social care, having risen from around half of all spending in 2010 due to the aging population.

The council has also seen income such as parking fees fall since the pandemic, but McKevitt said this will not affect any decisions about the budget this year.

A £9m government grant will finance the national insurance increase and has ‘considerably’ helped with recruitment in children’s services, McKevitt added.

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The council tax hike, which will be put to a vote by all councilors next month, follows a seven-year freeze on the general levy which finally ended last year.

Labor councilor Nazia Rehman, who is responsible for finance, resources and transformation in Wigan, says the council must think about ‘financial viability’.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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