Town hall cuts keep it ahead

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WIGAN Council today credits good housekeeping for putting it on track to beat its own savings target by nearly £1m.

The council had to save £24.2m last year following government funding cuts. The latest financial report shows that figure was met and an additional £910,000 saved on top of the original target. Councillors say this is a result of effective efficiency savings and early efforts to deal with next year’s funding cuts.

If the council had failed to meet its planned savings, the shortfall would have been added to the £18.7m that must be saved this year – meaning yet more service cuts to services.

The extra money from last year’s efficiency savings will be put into the council’s reserves, which are required to deal with the additional financial risks the government has transferred to the council in 2013.

This includes responsibility to pay for any business rates appeals of around £4 million, funding the £3m shortfall in council tax benefit grant and public health responsibilities. Council leader Lord Smith said: “I think this shows hard-pressed taxpayers that Wigan Council is careful with their money and working hard to make every penny go further.

“Two years ago, when we became aware of the likely scale of the government’s cuts, we took immediate action.

“That meant taking some difficult decisions but ultimately it has left us in a much stronger position than we would have been had we delayed or reduced our planned savings.”