Plans to freeze council tax

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PLANS to freeze council tax for the second year in a row will be put before councillors in Wigan next month after the authority saved thousands of pounds thanks to its innovative “deal” with the public.

The council still needs the support of residents to help it cope with unprecedented budget cuts but can afford to keep council tax at its current rate.

It follows the successful launch last year of The Deal - an informal contract between the council and the public that included a commitment for both sides to work together to make Wigan Borough a better place.

As part of The Deal, the council froze council tax and in return asked the public to help it save money by doing things like recycling more and using online services.

The council wants The Deal to continue and, after seeing a surge in recycling rates and an increase in the use of online services, can freeze council tax again.

Leader of Wigan Council, Lord Peter Smith, says: “We’ve got to save another £12m in the next financial year. In total, estimates are that by the end of the current austerity programme, the council will have cut over £130m from its budget.

“Yet, despite that enormous financial challenge, we’re able to freeze council tax again this year. Hopefully this will help the public who I know are still struggling through hard times.

“It is residents who have helped us get to this position by recycling more and using our online services, both of which have saved the council money. I ask that they continue to support The Deal throughout this next year.

“The council’s own decision to act early when austerity measures began, by making tough decisions and implementing cuts quickly, has also paid off. It means we’re in a better position than many other local authorities.”

Wigan Council has also benefited from an increased dividend from its share-holding in the Manchester Airport Group and extra revenue from new homes.

The proposal to freeze council tax will be put to full council, along with the rest of the budget, in March.

On Wednesday 21st January, residents are invited to put their questions about the council’s plans for the 2014/15 budget to head of finance Paul McKevitt on a live Twitter question and answer session. Residents can send their questions to @WiganCouncil from noon until 2pm.

More information about The Deal is available at www.wigan.gov.uk/thedeal