• Fri. Apr 19th, 2024

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Sunderland City Council Budget Consultation

sccSUNDERLAND CITY COUNCIL is urging people to help it decide what the most important priorities should be as it faces its most challenging budget yet.

After seeing £207m cut from its budget in the last six years by the Government, the council is facing a predicted Government cut of a further £110m by 2020.

This means that while it currently spends £663m – the equivalent of £5,262 per household – on 700 services to support the city’s 277,000 residents,  it will have £873 less for every household over the next four years.

Council Leader, Councillor Paul Watson, said: “It is clear that Government cuts will continue to hit local government hard over the next four years and areas like Sunderland are going to be hit especially hard.

“Over the last few years we’ve tried our very best to protect and improve frontline services by delivering savings in a way that protects people in the city from the worst impact of this financial challenge.

“But we need to save at least £40m in the next financial year. In five years’ time the amount we will have available to spend on local priorities and council services will be half of what we had in 2010.

“That means that by 2020 we’re likely to have less funding for all council services than we currently spend on supporting vulnerable adults, children and families, at a time when our population is ageing and demand on services is continuing to rise.

“We’re facing some really hard choices. Given the level of savings needed, we’re going to have to radically rethink some of the things we do and this will inevitably impact on the services we provide.

“This is something we don’t have any option over, legally we have to set a balanced budget otherwise Government will impose one on us but we are trying to do it in a way that will minimise the impact on the people of Sunderland.”

To help decide which priorities are most important and how its limited spending power should be allocated, the council has launched a budget consultation which it is urging people to complete online at: www.sunderland.gov.uk/budget-survey

This asks people for their views on which priorities are the most important comes to the money it has available to spend on services by completing a short questionnaire.

There will also be a series of area events over the next few weeks where people can come along and have their say.

Cllr Watson said: “The level of cuts is such that we can’t simply top slice money from council services. We have to work with residents, businesses and other organisations in the city to look at new and different ways of doing things.

“This is something we’ve been quite successful at doing so far with Sunderland Care and Support, libraries and more recently with our leisure joint venture with Everyone Active.

“But we are going to have to review and reduce the standards of some services at the same time as protecting priority services as far as possible and there is little doubt this will be noticeable.

“It’s really important that even if they don’t normally take part in surveys or questionnaires, people give us their views on what is important to them. Only then can we take their views into account when we’re deciding what our priorities should be.

“At the same time we also need to make sure that we continue to focus on regeneration and attracting investment to our city so we can make it more sustainable and help generate more wealth and jobs.”

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