A £2m Community Recovery Fund, 100 new apprenticeships and significant investment to create social housing have been approved as part of Wigan Council’s plans to build back fairer.
The 2021/22 budget approved this week also includes the continuation of the free weekend parking scheme in Wigan and Leigh town centres, an extension of the Our Town programme and significant investment in social care services.
Speaking at the budget setting meeting on Wednesday, council leader Councillor David Molyneux emphasised residents will continue to pay the lowest tax bills in Greater Manchester.
Coun Molyneux said: “There is a long way to go yet, but our plans map out how the borough can recover in a post-pandemic world, using the strength within our communities and the principles of The Deal.
“We recognise the impact the last 12 months has had and through the links established through the success of The Deal, we will help our business, voluntary and community sectors to create a fairer local economy.”
The budget, which includes a 0.99 per cent rise in general council tax and three per cent due to the government’s adult social care precept, includes no cuts to services.
This is despite the council having to find £9m worth of efficiencies.
The Recovery Fund will help public, private and community sectors in line with the council’s Community Wealth Building approach.
It will support grassroots groups, social enterprise, businesses and increase opportunities for new careers and training in the health and social care sector.
Free weekend parking in Wigan and Leigh town centres will also continue as the scheme has proved extremely popular in recent years.
Our Town – launched in 2019 – celebrates the borough’s sense of community pride and included funds for public realm works in district centres.
With the project works being placed on hold during the pandemic, it will now be relaunched with a view to focus on community safety, high streets and greenspaces.
The 100 new apprenticeships pledge will build on the council’s focus on providing the best training and skills opportunities for young people.
Around £30m has been earmarked as part of the council’s housing revenue account to create affordable housing schemes, which will support local businesses, employment, training and skills.
The recovery fund will also be invested in line with the council’s climate change priorities and support businesses and local projects that assist a green recovery.
Investment of £10m in children’s services and £2.5m a year over the next four years in adults social care is also included.
Coun Molyneux added: “A great deal of uncertainty remains around local government funding and other authorities are regrettably in a position of service cuts and job losses.
“We are in the position we are in because of the success of The Deal. The past year has brought unprecedented challenges but we have seen remarkable levels of community spirit and teamwork.
“It should be emphasised that the significant investment in social care – across both children and adult services – is because the current funding from central government is inadequate.”
“We will continue to work to deliver the priorities of the Deal 2030.”