NO council tax rises are currently planned in the borough for the next three years despite the council saying it needs to save almost £30m throughout that period.

Wigan Council will have to find £10m of savings every year for the next three years, according to the latest forecasts – but council tax would not increase.

It comes after a seven-year freeze on council tax for households in Wigan ended in April with a 0.99 per cent rise to the general levy for council services.

However, the children’s services department is still projecting a multi-million pound overspend this year as it tackles the ‘mass exodus’ of social workers.

Labour Tyldesley ward councillor Nazia Rehman, who is the portfolio holder for finance, resources and transformation, told the cabinet that there is still a ‘significant amount of uncertainty’ over council funding.

Presenting Wigan Council’s medium term financial plan, Cllr Rehman said it is hard to plan for the future with so much unknown about government funding.

The cabinet was told the biggest impact on the council’s current budget has been the overspend in children’s services which is now approaching £17m.

It follows a £10m investment in the directorate which has helped stem the mass exodus of social workers as well as recruit new staff and foster carers.

Director of children’s services Colette Dutton explained why the department had been struggling which resulted in a ‘scathing’ letter from regulator Ofsted.

She said: “Demand for children’s services has grown nationally and is likely to continue to grow. That’s the same in Wigan. We haven’t bucked the trend.

“Despite the increase of demand, the number of frontline workers hasn’t increased.

“But by using agency staff, we’ve ensured that there hasn’t been any unallocated work since last autumn.”

The children’s services directorate has produced an improvement and investment plan with support from accounting firm Granton Thornton.

Dutton presented the five-year financial strategy to the cabinet this week.

It aims to increase the number of foster carers registered with the council, ‘proactively’ shape the local care market and improve the ‘early help’ offer.

She added: “We don’t want sticking plasters.

“We’re wanting something that’s sustainable for a number of years.”

Cllr Rehman also said that parking income levels have failed to return to pre-pandemic levels due to a continual decline of shopping centres in the borough.

There has also been a shortfall in income for sports and leisure facilities, which were brought back into council control in April, due to Covid-related closures.

However since reopening, there has been a surge in bookings and new memberships which should alleviate some budget pressures next year.