|Savings on track
Wigan Council has exceeded its latest savings challenge – cutting more than £15m from its annual budget in the last financial year.
The council’s annual financial health check – its statement of accounts – will be presented at this month’s Audit Committee in draft form.
The latest figures, which are published on the council’s website each year, show that despite the difficult financial challenge facing the council, the local authority has managed to balance the books and exceed its savings challenge of £15.5million by £263k – beating last year’s target by £53k.
Deputy chief executive of Wigan Council and chief financial officer, Paul McKevitt, puts the success down to The Deal for the Future – the council’s strategic vision for transforming services. The strategy focuses on reforming services to ensure they are community-led, while growing the local economy to help businesses and individuals thrive.
The money the council receives as a shareholder of the Manchester Airport Group has also contributed towards the savings with £4.1m in dividends received in the last financial year– up £900k on the previous year.
The council’s reserves, which have been earmarked to fund transformational programmes to support The Deal for the Future strategy, have started to reduce as programmes get off the ground.
The savings programme is set to continue until at least 2020 with another £16m to save in 2018/2019 and £11m in 2019/2020 estimated to be needed at the moment. Most of this year’s savings target will be met by the changes to the borough’s waste collection, the merging of libraries and customer services and bringing housing back into the council.
Paul McKevitt said: “It certainly hasn’t been easy to find these savings, but through The Deal we’ve been able to transform the way we operate, which has helped us drive down costs and reduce demand while improving services.
“Unlike other areas we’ve been able to maintain those services that we know matter to our residents like libraries and school crossing patrols. We’ve done this by acting early and working differently with our residents and communities.”