Adult social care on budget for efficient Wigan Council
Stuart Cowley, Wigan Council’s director for adult social care and health.
Bold reforms in delivering adult social care and strong financial management have helped a pioneering North West council stay on budget despite increasing demand from an ageing population.
Wigan Council was one of the worst hit local authorities in the country for budget reductions after the announcement of austerity measures in 2010.
Through its Deal for the Future strategy the council has so far saved £115m through efficiency measures, reforming services and reducing demand.
In the council’s half-yearly financial report to cabinet members its adult social care department is highlighted as an example of how reforms have helped maintain a strong budget position.
This is despite a sustained rise in the volume and complexity of people aged 18-64 requiring support, particularly in the area of learning disability.
Paul McKevitt, Wigan Council’s deputy chief executive and director of resources, said: “The Deal for the Future radically changed the way we deliver services compared to the past and will help us maintain a secure financial position in the future.
“Despite an ageing population and an increased volume of complex cases our adult social care is on budget which is testament to the successful transformation of services in this directorate.
“This does not mean there are not significant budget challenges ahead but the current and projected position is strong and one which our excellent staff and innovative leadership have all contributed to.”
Stuart Cowley, Wigan Council’s director for adult social care and health said: “Through the Deal we focus on what really matters to residents who need adult social care support.
“Our new model now better connects people into their local communities through activities they enjoy which has reduced our reliance on traditional day services.
“The fact that our different approach has not only improved many people’s lives but also helped us maintain a strong budget position is a double success and one we are very proud of.”
Overall the half-yearly report states the council is on track to hit its £16m savings target for 2017/18.
Further good financial news for Wigan Council can be revealed with the authority receiving a £1.9m dividend boost through its shares in Manchester Airport Group.
The council along with the nine other Greater Manchester councils are shareholders in the airport, which thanks to its growth and success, is delivering healthy annual dividends.
Mr McKevitt added: “The dividend from the airport is a welcome additional income for the council and will help us realise savings and support vital services.”
Wigan Council is shortlisted for the national Local Government Chronicle Awards 2018 for most efficient council of the year.
It has achieved its required savings early through an accelerated plan saving on potential borrowing and inflationary costs.
As a result the savings target for the next three years up to 2020 has reduced from an original £45m to £38.6m.
For the next three years the savings targets are: 2017/18 £16m, 2018/19 £12m and 2019/20 £10.6m
The council has also kept Council Tax low – with it being the second lowest out of the ten Greater Manchester councils.
Pressures on the budget for the next three years include the introduction of the National Living Wage in the care sector potentially costing the council up to £3.4m and on-going residential costs for looked after children.
Posted on Wednesday 6th December 2017