Photo: Rept0n1x - Wikimedia Commons
Richard Bell

Wigan Council balances books but warns of challenges ahead

Wigan’s council has managed to exceed its latest savings challenge after making a number of cuts during the last financial year.

The council has unveiled its annual financial health check, which shows that its books are balanced after implementing £14m in cuts. It has however warned of upcoming challenges, which will become clearer once the autumn statement has been published later this year.

Council leader Lord Peter Smith has said, according to a press release from the council, that the local authority will continue with its present transformation programme to improve and streamline its services.

Lord Peter Smith said, when addressing the council’s audit, governance and review committee: “The savings aren’t going to go away, it’s better for us to act early and make sure we’re ready and I’m confident we are. That’s not to say it’s going to be easy. But through The Deal we’re doing things differently.

“Take adult social care, for example. Rather than trying to provide services ourselves, we’re working better with local organisations like Sunshine House to see how they can help us to support the community. We’ve had terrific support. This approach is being rolled out across the council, with some real results being achieved.

He added: “It’s the only way we can survive as a local authority. We understood that early and got on with it.”

Accounts show that Wigan Council underspent during the 2014/2015 financial year, which meant that a further £495k in savings could be made. This cash has since been reinvested in various schemes.

All UK councils have to produce a statement of accounts, which is then audited externally. Accountancy firm Grant Thornton, based in the Royal Liver Building in Liverpool, is auditing Wigan Council’s accounts and expects to have them signed off in September.

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