That’s the view of the Audit Commission which gave the authority an ‘unqualified’ positive assessment for its economic management and efficiency.
The government’s inspector, Mark Heap, looked in close detail at the council’s financial systems, its IT security and its value for money. His report says “The organisation has robust systems and processes to manage effectively financial risks and opportunities, and to secure a stable financial position that enables it to continue to operate for the foreseeable future.” Mr Heap adds that he gave “an unqualified value for money conclusion” to the council’s efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources.
The report has been welcomed by cabinet member for efficiency, Cllr Ged Bretherton.
Cllr Bretherton says: “We are pleased that this major inspection has again demonstrated that Wigan Council offers excellent value for money to residents. At a time when local government is facing huge cuts and having to radically refocus how it provides services, Wigan Council’s efficiency and business-like approach has been recognised at the highest level.”
The Audit Commission report noted the financial pressures on the council and reductions in its workforce as it looked to make the huge savings required by government. The inspector said that officer again produced draft financial statements ahead of the required deadline, which reflected particularly well on the council.
“The inspector said that we had anticipated the likely consequences of the economic downturn,” adds Cllr Bretherton. “He noted how we had made efficiencies in what we do and how we do it. What is even more important for us is that we continue to work with partners in business and the community to keep our unemployment figures down and town centres’ footfall up. Both these have bucked regional trends and we’re working hard to support our towns as well as individuals through a council tax freeze.”
Government auditors have awarded the council ‘excellent’ or ‘four star’ status annually over several years. Senior managers have pledged to continue to protect front line services whilst continue to provide value for money. The inspection towards the end of last year made clear the council’s “robust” plans, and agreements with officers to further tighten up its systems and networks.
Cllr Bretherton says: “Recognition from the Audit Commission for our work is important but we are absolutely not complacent and are continuing to push ahead with improvements for the benefit of everyone in the borough.”
Mr Heap concludes: “The council has taken a positive and constructive approach to our audit. I wish to thank the council staff for their support and co-operation.”