Council’s seventeen million pound black hole

WIGAN Council is £16.9m in debt, we can reveal.

The council’s latest financial figures – contained in the 2011/12 statement of accounts – reveals that its original estimate for the coming financial year’s deficit was £6.7m, but the actual deficit is a staggering £10m more than that figure.

The council says the ‘black hole’ in the accounts was caused by a number of issues, including:

l Claims against the council in respect of Equal Pay (£7.8m);

l Government grants being withdrawn (£6m);

l Voluntary redundancies (£7m) following the council’s request for people to come forward to help it cut its costs as part of the Government’s budget programme.

In his financial report, Paul McKevitt – Wigan Metro’s director of corporate services – says: “The deficit for the year is £16.958m, which is significantly greater than the anticipated when the original budget was set.”

The budget comes as Government cuts of £55m are set to hit the council this year. Redundancies and cuts to services have already been implemented, and more are set to follow. The report also revealed that, after redundancies, the council has cut the number of employees earning more than £50,000 a year from 77 to 66.

The report is set to go before the Audit Committee later this month.