CHILDREN and adult social care are two key areas Wigan Council will struggle to pay for as a result of current financial hardship, a report claims.

Due to pressures from the Covid pandemic and the cost of living crisis, the council believes these two social care sectors could be the ones to suffer most considering their growing financial demands dealing with the borough’s most vulnerable people.

The Children’s Social Care sector was given a ‘requires improvement’ by Ofsted earlier this year which the council put down to staffing and funding shortages.

That appears to be an issue that will continue according to the latest Statement of Accounts – which revealed the level of borrowing had reached £402.885m as of March 31, 2022.

“The major risk area for the Council’s revenue budget remains within children’s social care,” the report said.

“However well managed, there will be financial pressures as we are dealing with our most vulnerable children.”

Residential costs, care leavers costs and demand management are something that is getting more and more difficult to shell out for, the report claims. 

Talking further about the problems in adult social care, the report stated:

“The combined growth pressure attributable to increased demand and the rising cost of care is anticipated to be upward of £5.8m annually.

"However, the ongoing impact of the pandemic on both demand and cost remains uncertain and will continue to be monitored, whilst local transformation within adult social care and health is expected to benefit future demand pressures.”

Rising insurance premiums, construction industry prices increasing and interest rates rising are all factors that are making the council struggle financially.

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

Speaking in the report, council leader David Molyneux, said: “The 2021/22 financial year was once again a challenging 12 months due to the Covid 19 pandemic with many facing unprecedented challenges.

"All organisations, across both the public and private sectors, have had to adapt and we continue to face trying circumstances.

“We saw our element of the Council Tax bill increase following seven years of tax freezes. This decision was not taken lightly but with the ongoing uncertainty about how local government is funded, along with having our budget cut by £160m over the past decade, it is unfortunately a necessary choice.

"Local government, like many other sectors, has ongoing financial pressures due to rising costs and demand – even without factoring in how resources have been affected during the pandemic.”

He added that there are reasons to be optimistic though, with the Galleries 25 and the Leigh Strategic Regeneration Framework projects all coming along as well as the Rugby League World Cup and the Women’s Euros all taking place in Wigan.