Town hall bean counters brace for full budget

Wigan Town Hall
Wigan Town Hall

WIGAN Council finance chiefs will be bracing themselves today for future challenges as the chancellor unveils his summer budget.

Local authorities could be expected to make further cuts as George Osborne attempts to navigate the country out of its austerity period.

Deputy chief executive Paul McKevitt has already upped Wigan’s savings target to £18m for the coming year as a result of last year’s Autumn statement.

And with £16m slated for next year, he will be hoping the knock-on effects of today’s announcement will not trigger a drastic re-think. The chancellor will reveal today how the government plans to find £12bn of welfare savings promised by the Conservatives’ election manifesto.

Speaking in March in reaction to Mr Osborne’s pre-election budget, Mr McKevitt said: “Obviously it is positive that the chancellor has said austerity measures will now come to an end before the end of the next parliament.

“But the government has made us well aware that cuts to local government will not improve in the next few years but will actually be worse.”

Mr Osborne has signalled a £650m raid on BBC finances and a tighter-than-expected squeeze on welfare payments as he prepares to deliver his first all-Conservative budget.

Ministers will go further in capping welfare payments than the proposed £23,000-a-year household limit set out in the party’s election manifesto, while at the same time curbing the cost of tax credits.

The chancellor has also indicated that he was looking to transfer the £650 million-a-year bill for providing free television licences for the over 75s from the government to the BBC.

Mr Osborne has said the budget will “reward work over welfare.”