- 2021/22 financial plan includes no service or staff cuts
- Lead members issue further warning about local government funding
- Budget includes three per cent for government’s adult social care precept
- General council tax will see 0.99 per cent rise
Residents of Wigan Borough will continue to pay one of the lowest council tax rates in the region as part of budget proposals given cabinet approval this week. Lead members voted in favour of the 2021/22 financial plan that includes no service or staff cuts despite having to find efficiencies of £9m.
Leader of the Council, Councillor David Molyneux, voiced a stark warning that local authorities continue to face severe financial challenges with uncertainty around government funding coupled with the impact of Covid-19.
The general section of the tax bill will see a 0.99 per cent rise, with councils able to impose up to a two per cent rise without the need for a local referendum. The budget also includes the adult social care precept, introduced by central government, which will see a three per cent rise.
Coun Molyneux said: “Through prudential financial planning and the success of the Wigan Deal, last year we were able to offer our first no-cuts budget for almost a decade. The 12 months since has changed everyone’s situation significantly and local authorities have been on the frontline of the nation’s community pandemic response.
“We have ensured essential services have been maintained and provided support for those who needed it. To have a 3.99 per cent rise on the tax bill is not something we take lightly but we feel that this year especially we have little choice.
“The funding settlement announced by the government relies heavily on councils raising tax bills by the maximum available to them – we have opted against this.”
In addition to the £9m efficiencies forecast for 2021/22, the following two financial years will also require £9m, bringing the three year total to £27m, a report presented to cabinet states.
A 3.99 per cent rise will see bills for Band A properties, which account for almost 50 per cent of the borough’s homes, increase by £35 for the year, 67p per week.
With authorities across Greater Manchester and the wider region in the process of confirming their financial plans, it is expected that Wigan Borough’s rates will remain among the lowest
Coun Molyneux said: “We are in the position we find ourselves through the success of The Deal, but the reality is the efficiencies we need to make this year come on the back of the enforced savings of £160m over the last decade. It is extremely disheartening to see other local authorities in a position where staff and service cuts are a real possibility.
“We strongly believe our services continue to offer value for money and our rates remain one of the lowest around. Our residents helped us to shape the priorities of our Deal 2030 plans and we will continue to deliver them.”
The budget will now go to full council on Wednesday, March 3.