THE council need to dip into funding reserves following the government's "catastrophic failures", the Leader of the Council has said.

Attempting to level public finances during the cost of living crisis, the government announced huge spending cuts in its Autumn budget last week.

Saving £170m from its budget during austerity, these cuts and soaring inflation mean that Wigan Council will have to dip into its "rainy day" fund to properly fund public services across Wigan and Leigh.

Over the last financial year, the council has used £3m of its reserves to fund public services, which is likely to happen again as the local authority is projected to have a deficit of £32m for 2022-23.

"That rainy day is here"

Leigh Journal: Leader of the Council, Cllr David MolyneuxLeader of the Council, Cllr David Molyneux (Image: Wigan Council)

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Speaking about council reserves, Leader of the Council, Cllr David Molyneux said: “For years people have questioned why we have kept reserves rather than spending them. The answer is for a rainy day and that rainy day is here.”

According to the Local Government Association, councils have seen a £15 billion real terms reduction in funding from the government in the last decade.

With local authorities fearing funding gaps of £3.4 billion in 2023/24, Wigan Council has pledged its support to the LGA's #SaveLocalServices campaign calling on the government to provide financial sustainability and certainty for councils. 

Leigh Journal: Wigan Town HallWigan Town Hall (Image: LDRS)

Cllr Molyneux said: "If we don’t get any additional support, what is clear is that as a council we cannot continue to deliver all that we currently do as we do it now, without risking the future financial health of the council.

“We have seen a huge rise in demand on services following the pandemic, especially in adults and children’s social care.

"Yet, despite this increase in demand the Government is failing to provide appropriate funding to meet this, forcing councils to make difficult choices about local services.

“In fact, the government’s response to the economic crisis has actually made matters worse and caused deep worry and concern in homes across our borough.”

Earlier in the year, the local authority announced that council tax would rise by 2.99 percent for 2022/23 as it tries to claw back some savings.

Difficult decisions "necessary" to tackle record inflation

Leigh Journal: Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced spending cuts in the Autumn Budget last weekChancellor Jeremy Hunt announced spending cuts in the Autumn Budget last week (Image: PA)

In a statement in the House of Commons, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt insisted the government's budget was not a return to austerity but “difficult decisions” were necessary in order to tackle inflation, now at a 41-year high.

Chancellor Hunt told the Commons: “In the face of unprecedented global headwinds, families, pensioners, businesses, teachers, nurses and many others are worried about the future.

“So today we deliver a plan to tackle the cost-of-living crisis and rebuild our economy.

“Our priorities are stability, growth, and public services.

“We also protect the vulnerable because to be British is to be compassionate and this is a compassionate Conservative government.”