Council chief calls on chancellor to give Wigan 'fair deal' in autumn statement
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The letter from Coun David Molyneux comes ahead of the key budgetary announcement to Parliament tomorrow (November 22), in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer will set out the Government’s spending priorities.
Because inflation has come down so rapidly in recent months, it is being rumoured that Mr Hunt has more money to play with than had previously been expected.
The Labour-run local authority says that this gives him the opportunity to reverse the “damaging Conservative cuts that have left many public services struggling to survive.”
Since 2010 the government has repeatedly cut funding to councils, leaving an increasing number of them warning that they could effectively go bankrupt in the coming months.
The cross-party Local Government Association has warned that a combination of rampant inflation, rising homelessness, and the increased cost of delivering services such as children’s social care mean councils are facing a £4bn funding gap by March 2025.
During austerity the Government cut funding to Wigan borough by £130m in real terms, which is equivalent to 59 per cent of the funding received from the last Labour government.
In his letter to the Chancellor, Coun Molyneux wrote: “These funding pressures are largely a direct result of government policy, including the disastrous mini-budget last year which crashed the economy.
"Your government should bear the responsibility of meeting them, rather than once again forcing councils to increase council tax bills.
"This is simply not sustainable during a cost-of-living crisis.
“Without immediate action councils will need to make increasingly difficult decisions.
"You have an opportunity in the Autumn Statement to deliver a fair deal for the borough of Wigan – to protect vital public services and to avoid increasing the tax burden on families still dealing with the cost-of-living crisis that your government caused when you crashed the economy.
"We urge you to take it.”
Whether Mr Hunt does so remains to be seen. All the noises so far suggest the Chancellor is likelier to take measures to reduce taxes.