|A great deal for residents as Wigan one of few authorities to freeze council tax
Wigan Council has announced plans to freeze council tax for the sixth year running.
Although it is expected 97 per cent of councils in England plan to increase council tax, Wigan has pledged to freeze it as part of The Deal.
The authority has also revealed that no further efficiencies to frontline services will need to be made for it to reach its total saving of £160m by 2020.
Prudent financial planning and bold reforms have helped the council to be ahead of their savings target despite being one of the worst hit local authorities in the country for budget reductions after austerity measures hit in 2010.
Through The Deal – the council’s informal contract with residents - the authority has already saved £141.5m through efficiency measures, reforming services and reducing demand.
This means the only increase on council tax bills in the borough will be the Greater Manchester Mayor’s precept.
A further £19.2m will need to be saved in the next three years.
The plans are set to go before the council’s cabinet on Thursday 21st February before full council in March.
Leader of the council, Cllr David Molyneux, said: “We could have increased council tax but we have chosen not to. We understand we are among a handful of councils choosing not to increase it.
“This is despite us being the third worst affected authority by government cuts in 2010.
“We faced up to our challenges. The Deal has radically changed the way we deliver services and it will help us maintain a secure financial position in the future.
“I want to thank our residents for embracing it, for recycling, volunteering, and for helping to transform our borough. We would not be in this position without them.
“While we’re doing as much as we can it is absolutely vital that residents do their bit to support us too. People need to get behind the borough and spend the Wigan pound.
“For example we need people to take up the offer of free weekend parking. We can put these initiatives in place but they will only be successful if people get behind them.
“When we were first hit with austerity we set out our strategy and made a long-term plan for achieving our savings while improving services.
“Compared to many councils across the country we are now in the unique position of not having to make any further cuts to our frontline services.
“However this does not mean that we do not have any challenges ahead of us.
“There are still significant risks of financial pressure particularly from the areas of adult social care and children’s services. We have the fastest growing ageing population in Greater Manchester.”
In September last year the council launched The Big Listening Project to engage with residents to find out what they would like the borough to look like in 2030.
More than 6,000 people took part in the consultation and this feedback is now being used to develop The Deal 2030 which will be the borough’s strategy for the next 10 years.
“Through The Big Listening Project we wanted to have honest conversations with people about what they thought was a priority for the future and how it could be achieved. We spoke to more than 6,000 people about what they wanted.
“The Deal 2030 strategy has genuinely been shaped by what we heard from residents, businesses and communities and we want to continue to work together to make our borough a better place.”