Council cuts to the tune of £43m


WIGAN Council must save £43m over the next three years as part of the latest round of government cuts.

Town hall bosses are now working on a plan to save money whilst still retaining its essential services after Parliament announced England’s councils will face an average spending cut of 2.9 per cent in the year 2014-15.

Details of this will be revealed in the New Year.

Paul McKevitt, deputy chief executive of Wigan Council, said: “We’ve received our provisional settlement from the government. It is largely as we expected, although many details are still to be confirmed.

“As we previously forecast, the council will have to make savings of up to £43m over the next three years.

“Plans are being drawn up to ensure our services are delivered in a targeted and efficient way within the available resources.”

In March, the council made more than £18m worth of savings in what they described as their most “difficult and challenging” budget, with a £5m reduction in social care services, £2m saved by reducing back office costs and £1m slashed from a shared IT contract with Bolton Council.

At that time, Wigan Council received the third highest spending cuts out of the UK’s 152 local authorities.

A number of day care centres closed this year, in a bid to replace them with a more flexible service, involving charities, community groups and volunteers.

Leisure and culture spending had been reduced by 20 per cent over the last two financial years.

Car parking charges in the town centre have also jumped up 23 per cent to reduce debt,

But, during the local authority’s annual accounts review this summer, deputy chief executive Paul McKevitt said that despite continued cuts to public funding and the council having to reduce staff numbers and parts of its service, Wigan was in better financial health than other authorities.

In a written statement, communities minister Brandon Lewis said: “English local government accounts for £1 of every £4 spent on public services, and is expected to spend some £117bn in 2013-14.

“So the settlement that we are proposing recognises the responsibility of local government to find sensible savings and make better use of its resources.”

Labour politicians said services would suffer and some councils could be stretched to “breaking point”.

Sir Merrill Cockell, chairman of the Local Government Association, warned the next two years would be “the toughest yet” for people who rely on council services.

He said: “By the end of this Parliament, local government will have to have made £20bn worth of savings.

“Councils have so far largely restricted the impact of the cuts on their residents.

“They have worked hard to save those services that people most value and have protected spending on social care for children and the elderly but even these areas are now facing reductions.”