Wigan’s £64.4m care bill

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WIGAN is paying one of the highest care bills in the country, it was claimed today.

New figures, which reveal the total cost to authorities of providing social care, show the borough forked out a massive £64.4m last year - the second highest figure in Greater Manchester.

Only Manchester itself spent more on social care (£85.4m) in 2013/14 in the region, with Bury spending the least amount (31.1m)

The statistics, released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) also reveal that Wigan had the second highest average weekly care cost per person at £648.50, with only Salford paying more per head of population with £711.60. Bury was again the lowest ranked area of Greater Manchester with £366.80 per person.

However, council chiefs dispute the figures.

Stuart Cowley, Wigan’s director of adult social care and health, said: “These are only provisional figures, currently undergoing a comprehensive checking process, and we will be happy to comment more fully when the information has been finalised. We are working with all of our partners to ensure we spend our resources in an efficient and effective way to achieve high quality care for the people of Wigan.”

The news comes just weeks after Wigan Council launched a “new approach” to social care in the borough in which they say a focus on reducing isolation and loneliness can help make significant savings.

Bosses say the Council is committed to personalising care, meaning less reliance on communal facilities such as day centres which has subsequently resulted in four closures.

Coun Keith Cunliffe, cabinet member for adult social care and health, said: “The old way of working is no longer the best way of providing the right support for people who need it, and doesn’t build on what’s available in their own communities.

“For example, many of the buildings we operate from are old and not fit for purpose and the pilots we’ve already carried out have proven successful.

“Making efficiency savings is essential, but we believe it is possible to do this while transforming and modernising the services we provide along with improving the quality of the lives of service users.

“This new innovative Deal will help us to ensure we deliver the best possible level of personalised care for every individual.

“It has allowed us to rebalance the budget and adapt to ensure we invest sufficiently in services for older people to help cope with an ageing population while offering younger service users a chance to improve independence.”