Wigan is no exception. The council’s cabinet champion for improvement, Cllr Chris Ready, pictured, is throwing down the challenge to Borough Life readers to talk money.
Cllr Ready says: “These are challenging times and we need to respond in a responsible fashion to protect the growth and prosperity of this borough. This means describing very clearly what we can and will deliver as a Council within spending limits and how we plan to deliver those services, as well as how we will deliver the required financial savings.
“We know our residents, our public services and business community will pull together to ensure we keep improving the look of our borough, our opportunities for people to do well for themselves and our confidence.
“That confidence includes doing the right things in terms of the action needed to deliver £55million of savings over the next three years, of which almost £5million needs to be delivered this year because of government grant cuts.
“What we need to help people understand is that a public sector that is only 75 per cent of what it is today will need to be a changed one – one that takes a more limited role and one that offers support only to those who need it most, and concentrates on enabling people to stand on their own two feet.
“Instead of concentrating on putting government monies into building projects we will now concentrate more on the role we can play in encouraging others to invest in Wigan Borough, harnessing commercial investment to create the demand for people in new high quality jobs, bringing greater wealth and health and prospects.
“And although we will protect the frontline, we will focus on some different solutions that might work better and be better value – particularly around earlier work with children and families and antisocial behaviour – focusing on causes rather than symptoms. Tough decisions will have to be made; we are already consulting with unions over between 650 and 820 job losses over the same period and it’s a painful process.
“Urgent measures already being taken include a freeze on recruitment and stopping overtime. We have also reviewed all our spending programmes and explored all possible income generation streams across our activities.
“Our staff are helping by coming up with all kinds of helpful cost-saving suggestions and you too can help straight away by doing things like paying your council bills by direct debit.
“And we are looking to Borough Life readers to have their say. We all know that there are things that local councils have to do that will always be costly but so essential such as looking after children in care and protecting vulnerable people. But outside these areas what are your priorities and the priorities in your local community? Is there anything the council should stop doing? Is there more the community could do for itself?
“We also need to know about your money-saving ideas, ideas that come from your own experience managing household budgets, running local businesses and basically making ends meet. The only thing we ask is to make your suggestions constructive and we’d really love to hear from you.”
There are two different ways you can have your say. Write to: Have my say, Borough Life, FREEPOST NWW3502A, Wigan WN1 1XZ, or visit Have Your Say.