Wigan council tax bills set to rise by three per cent

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Council tax is expected to increase by around three per cent from April in Wigan.

Wigan Council is considering raising the adult social care precept by one per cent together with an increase in the council tax general levy of around two per cent.

It comes as the local authority looks for savings of £9m as it prepares a budget for the next year, having previously planned to freeze council tax until 2025.

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But Wigan council leader David Molyneux said he is "quite confident" a council tax hike would mean no cuts to services or job losses in the next financial year.

Council tax bills will inevitably increase on April 1Council tax bills will inevitably increase on April 1
Council tax bills will inevitably increase on April 1
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He said the town hall "fully understands" the pressures on residents hit by the cost of living crisis.

However, he said the Government expects councils to raise money in this way.

He said: “We want to ensure that, certainly for people working in the authority, there’s no job losses and no cuts to services.

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Coun Molyneux is confident that there will be no cuts to frontline servicesCoun Molyneux is confident that there will be no cuts to frontline services
Coun Molyneux is confident that there will be no cuts to frontline services

“People are facing additional financial pressures. To think, if we had social service cuts, children services cuts, everything else cut, the pressure would have been even greater.

“The council tax allows us to maintain services to the level which are in a good place. That’s what we intend to do.”

The Labour leader said the council tax hike will raise around £3.5m next year.

This will offset some of the £9m that the town hall needs to find in savings of which £5m is caused by cost pressures in social care and £4m by inflation.

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The council’s energy costs are expected to go up by 70 per cent next year while the general rate of inflation will be around 7 per cent, according to the latest estimates.

More cash will be pumped into the town hall’s failing children services department, with a £20m investment planned over the next three years.

And reserves could be used to ‘smooth over’ some shortfalls in the budget.

Deputy chief executive Paul McKevitt explained that by not raising council tax in line with government guidance, the local authority would be putting itself in a worse position if it were to ask for more funding in future financial years.

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He said: “With pressures of £9m each year, and on the back of cutting £160m, where do you go?”

Around 66 pc of the council’s £255m budget is spent on social care, having risen from around half of all spending in 2010 due to the ageing population.

The council has also seen income such as parking fees fall since the pandemic, but McKevitt said this will not affect any decisions about the budget this year.

A £9m government grant will finance the national insurance increase and has ‘considerably’ helped with recruitment in children’s services, McKevitt added.

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The council tax hike, which will be put to a vote by all councillors next month, follows a seven-year freeze on the general levy which finally ended last year.

Labour councillor Nazia Rehman, who is responsible for finance, resources and transformation in Wigan, says the council must think about "financial viability."

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