Lowest tax rate budget includes £1m community boost and focus on job opportunities

up to date list of Council Tax over GM
  • New contractors for Wigan town centre regeneration unveiled
  • £1m boost to apprenticeship fund
  • Popular free parking scheme extended
  • £1m community fund will link to 50th anniversary plans

The lowest tax rate in Greater Manchester, a £1m investment fund for communities and key announcements regarding town centre regeneration are highlights of Wigan Council’s financial plans.

The 2024/25 budget, approved on Wednesday with no-cuts to services, also included a pledge to support apprenticeships and an extension to free parking schemes.

Addressing the full council, Leader David Molyneux MBE said the budget plans will continue to deliver first-class services for communities across the borough.

He also unveiled leading construction firm Galliford Try as the chosen contractor for the next stage of Wigan town centre’s redevelopment project with a promise of further announcements in the coming weeks.

Councillor Molyneux said: “We are proud once again to be delivering another budget that includes no-cuts to services and investment in priority schemes that will have a big impact on our communities.

“Set against a backdrop of rising financial pressures on local government, this is another big achievement for us, but our concerns about central government’s approach remain.

“The construction stage for the former site of The Galleries – which prioritises the new Market Hall as the first building to be constructed – is an exciting one and we were delighted to unveil Galliford Try as our partners, they offer a wealth of experience and expertise of similar projects and a strong presence in the northwest.

“And I’m also pleased to say there will be further exciting announcements regarding the town centre before the month is out.

“These developments, along with the funds secured for Leigh and Ashton’s regeneration projects are a major cause for optimism over the next few years.”

The budget includes a 2.99 per cent rise in general council tax and a further two per cent due to the government’s adult social care precept.

Free town centre weekend parking in Wigan and Leigh has been extended for another year and the successful Future Apprenticeships for Business (FAB) project will receive a £1m funding boost.

Wigan Borough was recently recognised as one of the best areas in the country to be an apprentice, with the council itself named as a top 100 national employer with nearly 300 on its books.

The FAB scheme provides funds for local businesses to employ their own apprentices, supporting 51 firms take on 72 young people. The additional £1m will allow the public and private partnership to widen its reach.

The £1m community fund builds on the previous successful Community Investment Fund – a key feature of previous Wigan Council budgets – and will this year be linked to the programme to mark the 50th anniversary of Wigan Council.

It will help grassroots organisations deliver projects to enrich the lives of thousands of residents across the borough, responding to local priorities.

Councillor Molyneux added: “Once again we will be highlighting that the government expects town halls to raise council tax to address our rising pressures, leaving us with little choice.

“This simply passes the burden onto taxpayers and we will continue to voice that this is not a long-term solution.

“We have been forced to make savings of around £180m over the past decade, but through prudent financial management and decision making this is another balanced budget that will deliver for our residents.”

In last year’s budget, the council set a two-year savings target of £10m which it is on track to meet this year through efficiencies.