Deal to fix council's budget challenge

Stuart Cowley, Wigan Councils director for adult social care and health
Stuart Cowley, Wigan Councils director for adult social care and health
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A series of bold reforms has helped council chiefs in Wigan stay on budget while coping with an increased demand from an ageing population.

That’s the verdict of the authority’s own half-yearly financial report to cabinet members. It found the town hall saved £115m through efficiency measures, reforming services and reducing demand.

The report credits its Deal for the Future strategy for helping the council maintain a strong budget position. This is despite a sustained rise in the volume and complexity of people aged 18 and 64 requiring support, particularly in the area of learning disability.

Paul McKevitt, Wigan Council’s deputy chief executive and director of resources, said: “The Deal for the Future radically changed the way we deliver services compared to the past and will help us maintain a secure financial position in the future.

“Despite an ageing population and an increased volume of complex cases our adult social care is on budget which is testament to the successful transformation of services in this directorate.

“This does not mean there are not significant budget challenges ahead but the current and projected position is strong and one which our excellent staff and innovative leadership have all contributed to.”

Stuart Cowley, Wigan Council’s director for adult social care and health, added: “Through the Deal we focus on what really matters to residents who need adult social care support.

“Our new model now better connects people into their local communities through activities they enjoy which has reduced our reliance on traditional day services.

“The fact that our different approach has not only improved many people’s lives but also helped us maintain a strong budget position is a double success and one we are very proud of.”

Overall the half-yearly report states the council is on track to hit its £16m savings target for 2017/18.

Further good financial news for Wigan Council can be revealed with the authority receiving a £1.9m dividend boost through its shares in Manchester Airport Group.

The council along with the nine other Greater Manchester councils are shareholders in the airport which is delivering healthy annual dividends.

Mr McKevitt added: “The dividend from the airport is a welcome additional income for the council and will help us realise savings and support vital services.”

Wigan Council is shortlisted for the national Local Government Chronicle Awards 2018 for most efficient council of the year.