Community fund expands as Wigan Council’s no-cuts budget is approved

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Wigan Council Logo
Wigan Council
  • Grass-roots groups can access a further £1m as part of recovery fund
  • Fresh pledges on apprenticeships, affordable housing and social care
  • Budget includes no cuts to services, jobs – lowest tax bills

An extension to the multi-million-pound Community Recovery Fund, hundreds of new affordable homes and a £1.2m pothole repair fund have been unveiled as part of Wigan Council’s annual financial plan.

The 2022/23 budget approved this week includes a further pledge to provide 100 graduate and apprenticeship roles at the town hall along with environmental improvement schemes.

Speaking at Wednesday’s budget setting meeting, council leader Councillor David Molyneux emphasised that borough residents will continue to pay the lowest tax bills in the North West and the lowest for a metropolitan borough in the UK.

Free town centre weekend parking in Wigan and Leigh has also been extended for another year and the popular Our Town Cleaner Greener package will be rolled out to more areas across the borough.

The budget, which includes a 1.99 per cent rise in general council tax and one per cent due to the government’s adult social care precept, includes no cuts to services or job losses.

Councillor Molyneux said: “The government has made it clear that they expect councils to raise council tax to address rising costs and additional pressures, but it doesn’t go anywhere near far enough and we feel that we have no choice.

“Despite the challenging circumstances we continue to face, we are proud to be delivering another budget that includes flagship schemes to support our communities in line with the principles of The Deal and no cuts to services.”

An extra £1m will be allocated to the community recovery fund, which has already seen more than 250 grass-roots organisations supported since its launch last year. This brings the total investment in the fund to £3m.

Last year’s budget included the 100 apprenticeship and graduate role pledge, with the local authority hitting the target one year into the three-year timeframe.

This has prompted council bosses to unveil a further 100 pledge. An extra £2.5m has also been allocated to address increasing pressures in adult social care and £16m for children’s services, over the next three years.

Coun Molyneux added: “We are in the position we are in because of the success of The Deal but as we did last year, we need to emphasise that without a long-term plan for social care from the government there will continue to be a great deal of uncertainty. Our plans focus on areas that we know are important to our residents and we will continue to work to deliver the priorities of the Deal 2030 and create a fairer economy in Wigan Borough.
Through its direct-delivery scheme, the council has pledged to build 770 affordable homes over the next three years. And the £1.2m pothole will help local authority teams repair the borough’s most important through-routes.
The Our Town Cleaner Greener scheme has already seen environmental and public realm improvement works across 12 district centres. The programme will be extended for 2022 to include 12 further areas. The popular free weekend parking scheme for Wigan and Leigh town centres has been in place since 2018 at an annual cost of £380k to the authority.
The budget outlines that the council will be required to find £7.8m worth of efficiencies for 2022/23, with £8.6m and £9.8m currently estimated for the following two years.