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New £500,000 fund to get Wigan Borough moving announced as budget agreed

A new £500,000 community fund to help get people in Wigan Borough more active was unveiled by the leader of Wigan Council as the budget for the coming year was set.

Lord Peter Smith, leader of Wigan Council, announced the new ‘Wigan On The Move’ fund at the Full Council meeting in Wigan town hall yesterday (Wednesday).

It will be available for community groups and sports clubs to bid for and will be targeted at making it easier for people of all ages to be more active – from gentle exercise classes to playing sports.

The ‘Wigan On The Move’ fund adds to the £2m pledged this year to the on-going successful Community Investment Fund aimed at tackling the difficult social problems in the borough.

Lord Peter Smith said: “This new ‘Wigan On The Move’ fund is targeted at community groups and sports clubs with the aim of trying to get more people more physically active.

“This will support people of all ages and all levels of fitness in Wigan Borough to have access to some basic physical activity.

“Just doing some gentle physical exercise can have enormous health benefits. There are also the added social and mental health benefits of being involved in a club and meeting new people.”

Lord Smith said clubs such as St Cuthbert’s Amateur Rugby League Club in Norley Hall were great examples of clubs helping people in deprived areas get active and healthy.

The ‘Wigan On The Move’ fund is part of the Greater Manchester ‘Moving’ blueprint which will guide the investment in physical activity and sport at a Greater Manchester level over the coming years.

The new fund announcement came as councillors overwhelmingly voted to approve the ‘Deal for the Future’ budget for 2016/17 which froze general council tax but included a 2% increase to help fund adult social care.

The meeting heard that costs in the coming year for adult social care, which makes up 30% of the entire budget for the council, will rise by £6.7m.

The 2 per cent increase in council tax will raise £2.1m.

Lord Smith told councillors the cutting of central government funding for adult social care meant the council was left with no choice but to increase council tax.

The meeting heard Wigan Council will have to save £60m over the next five years, including £15.5m this year alone, due to reduced funding from central government.

But the council was praised from all sides of the chamber for meeting the financial challenges created by the budget reductions and transforming services for the better as part of the Deal for the Future.

Lord Smith added that Wigan Council has the joint lowest increase in Council Tax in Greater Manchester and the second lowest Council Tax overall.

The increase will mean on an average Band D property the council element of the Council Tax bill will increase from £1,192 in 2015/16 to £1,215 in 2016/17.

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