Wigan Council spending £38m less on key services than nine years ago

Wigan Council is now spending 38m less on key services than nine years ago
Wigan Council is now spending 38m less on key services than nine years ago

Wigan Council is spending more than £38m less on key services than nine years ago despite per person reductions being among Greater Manchester’s lowest, shock figures reveal.

The town hall has managed to keep the reductions on crucial services between 2010 and this year to £136 per person, a drop of 18 per cent.

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In real terms, though, this means that in a period of nine years the overall amount being spent on the most important council services has dropped by a staggering £38,262,000.

The per person amount in cash terms is the third lowest of the region’s 10 unitary authorities while the percentage drop is also the third smallest, according to the figures from the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

Only Bolton and Tameside have had to cut back less on key provision, with 16 per cent reductions per person.

In real terms, Wigan has seen the sixth heaviest cuts to key services in Greater Manchester, with only Oldham, Rochdale, Salford and Manchester facing bigger reductions in key spending.

Key services include social care, waste management, libraries and transport.

The TUC blames years of serious funding cuts from Westminster, saying that annual spending on services across North West town halls has dropped by a stunning £1.4bn since 2010.

The council also admitted it has found itself in a challenging position financially but highlighted a number of ways it has managed to continue helping the borough’s residents.

It also said the current uncertainty over local government funding means there are massive question marks over how much cash will be available going forward.

Tony Clarke, assistant director for finance at Wigan Council, said: “Wigan Council has a proven track record of excellent financial planning and delivering to budget.

“But figures need to be taken in context as additional functions have been transferred to the council during the period of austerity which partially mask the real impact on funding.

“Through The Deal we’ve been able to achieve our savings targets while improving services but like many authorities we are facing a point where this won’t be possible.

“The success of innovative initiatives, such as The Deal for Communities Investment Fund, has meant the council has been able to invest in projects that make a real difference to residents’ lives.

“But by 2020, the council’s budget will have reduced by £160m.

“This unprecedented level of budget cuts has led to the Institute for Fiscal Studies highlighting us as the third worst-cut council in the UK.

“We’re awaiting the outcome of government reviews regarding funding for local authorities. Not having clarity on these adds further uncertainty to our financial position.”

In per person terms Wigan has cut distinctly less on services than some other town halls, with Salford seeing an enormous 42 per cent drop in spending per capita.

And in the North West’s hardest-hit town hall, Rossendale, residents have had an astounding 57 per cent less spent on each of them since 2010.

Councils as a whole in England are now spending £7.8bn a year less on key services than in 2010.

The Local Government Association (LGA) suggests councils will have lost 60p out of every £1 the government provided to spend on local services in the past eight years.

In the wake of the new figures being released the TUC is calling for vital services to be protected.

Regional secretary Jay McKenna said: “Ministers have slashed funding for local services across the region.

“These are services our communities really depend upon, like youth services, libraries and local transport.

“We need a plan for healing the pain a decade of Conservative cuts have caused. That means new investment to restore council budgets back to where they were at the start of the decade.”