No cuts or job losses – but council tax will rise in Wigan as budget is approved

There will be no cuts to services or job losses at Wigan Town Hall – but residents will face a 2.99 per cent council tax hike now the budget has been approved.

The local authority will invest more money in social housing, community group grants and children services while creating an additional 100 apprenticeships.

However, a general council tax increase of 1.99 per cent will come into effect in April alongside a 1 per cent increase in the adult social care precept which is ringfenced.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

This is in addition to the council tax increases set by Greater Manchester.

There will be no job losses at Wigan Town Hall

Council leader David Molyneux said the government expects local authorities to raise council tax – but he was pleased to be presenting a balanced budget.

Speaking at a full council meeting on Wednesday (March 2), he said: “I’m so proud of the achievements that we have made and despite all the pressure that we continue to have, we’ll be making a number of announcements tonight which will certainly show the commitment of this council to its people.”

The leader spoke of ‘major investment’ in social housing with 770 new homes.

He also announced additional funding for local volunteer groups through the Community Recovery Fund which was set up during the current financial year.

Read More
Park Hall reopens this weekend for '30 Years of Wigan Pier' nightclub event just...

The Our Town programme which aims to create a “cleaner, greener borough” will be extended to the 12 districts which have not benefited from it so far.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

And a further 100 apprenticeships and graduate jobs will be created within the council over the next two years, adding to the 100 announced 12 months ago.

Finance lead Nazia Rehman also spoke of additional investment in social care to the tune of £5m over two years and more money for looked after children.

Deputy leader Keith Cunliffe formally committed the council to paying every social care worker in the borough the Real Living Wage ‘as soon as possible’.

But he said this would not happen by this April as the council must first speak with all of its social care providers and put funding in place over the next year.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Cabinet members spent an hour and a half speaking about the achievements of each section the council and setting out some new spending commitments.

By the time opposition councillors were able to present their budget proposals, the public gallery – which had been full – was almost empty.

Tory group leader Michael Winstanley opposed the council tax increase.

He proposed that the remaining balance of the Our Town Fund is spent on the same wards which have already benefited, saying the spending had been “spread too thin” and arguing that the investment had had “minimal impact”.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

And he called for a 75 per cent reduction rent at Wigan Market which he argued should be offered to all traders until they move into the new development.

It comes as a major redevelopment of the Galleries shopping centre – which includes the market – is set to get under way despite opposition from traders.

Coun Winstanley called on the council to offer more support to the market.

He said: “We need to do something radical and we need to do something now. If we don’t do something now, it will be finished. There’ll be no traders and that will be the end of it.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Independent Network leader Stuart Gerrard proposed investing £2m into the Atherton Park Life hub and putting £250,000 towards Jubilee celebrations.

His budget amendment also called for plans for the M58 link road to be halted, to free up £20m of funds for “much needed” social and affordable housing.

He also called for supermarkets to be charged for the cost of clearing and removing trolleys and baskets from estates and streets in the borough.

Independent councillor Bob Brierley had prepared his own amendments, but these were dismissed due to their approval resulting in an unbalanced budget.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Responding to the budget amendments, the Labour leader said the council is already offering support to market traders affected by the redevelopment.

Coun Molyneux defended all of the budget proposals – and the Galleries plans.He added: “We want to make sure that we offer a town centre that people are proud of. It’s so important to us as a borough that Wigan town centre thrives.”

Thanks for reading. If you value what we do and are able to support us, a digital subscription is just £1 for your first month. Try us today by clicking here