Wigan council tax bills set to rise by 3.9 per cent as seven-year freeze ends

A seven-year freeze on council tax in Wigan is set to end this year with an overall increase of almost four per cent for all taxpayers living in the borough.
Coun Nazia RehmanCoun Nazia Rehman
Coun Nazia Rehman

The tax hike will come into effect from April, after councillors vote to approve the changes, together with a 1.5 per cent rise in rent for council housing tenants.

This will be only the second time in the last decade that the local authority raises the general tax rate within the bill, with an increase of 0.99 per cent proposed.

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The adult social care precept within the council tax bill, which is ringfenced for certain services, will rise by three per cent – the maximum permitted by the government.

Wigan Council will also have to find £9m in savings over the next financial year – but no cuts to services or job losses at the town hall have been proposed.

It comes as the pandemic is projected to cost the council £30.4m in this financial year, although government grants will help balance the budget.

Labour councillor Nazia Rehman, who is responsible for finance, resources and transformation, revealed the budget to the cabinet.

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She said: “We are rightly proud of our record of having frozen the level of general tax for six years and indeed have only increased it once in the past decade.

“However, because of the government’s clear move to funding councils through council tax increases, the time is looming where we’ll have to reconsider this.”

Each year Wigan Council, which currently charges the lowest council tax in the North West, has to find an further £4m to fund its social care services.

This year, the children’s services department is projecting a £17m overspend.

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The government factored in a 4.99 pc increase in council tax within its calculations for local government funding in the next financial year.

But Coun Rehman said that even a full council tax rise as ‘expected’ by the government, would not cover the increase in costs to the council.

Council leader David Molyneux called on the government to "start taking adult social care seriously" and not throw "all of the onus on council tax payers".

He said: “It is a crying shame, the way adult services is treated.

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“I think it’s totally wrong that the government rely on council tax payers to support this function.

“It is totally unacceptable and I plead to the government: you need to wake up to this and wake up to it very quickly.”

Councillors will consider the council tax recommendations of a 3.99 per cent rise and vote on the budget for the next financial year at a meeting on March 3.