TIME IS RUNNING OUT for Sunderland people to have their say on budget proposals that will see major cuts to council services.

The City Council is asking people their views on detailed proposals for saving £74m from its budget by 2020. This is on top of the £250m it has had to save over the last six years as a result of the Government’s austerity programme.

More than 350 people have now filled in the questionnaire that will be used to help decide the final programme of savings. This is compared to more than a thousand who completed the first phase of the budget consultation which asked people which services they value most

Council Leader, Councillor Paul Watson is urging people not to miss out on having their say before the consultation ends on Tuesday 3 January.

Cllr Watson said: “I know this is a really frantic time of year but I would urge people to find five minutes in their busy lives to fill in the budget survey.

“These latest cuts on top of the ones we’ve already suffered over the last six years will have a major impact on services. People will see a noticeable difference to many of the services they and their families hold dear as a direct result of the savings we’re having to make.

“That is why we’ve set out detailed proposals for saving £74m and we’d very much like to hear people’s views on them.”

Unprecedented cuts and cost pressures have left the council struggling to balance falling budgets with the rising demand for adult social care as the population ages and the extra investment needed to support vulnerable children.

The council also estimates that by 2020 it will have £590 less available to spend for each Sunderland household than it has at the moment.

Cllr Watson added: “This is uncharted territory in terms of the crippling level of cuts we are facing as a result of the Government’s austerity programme.

“We’ve tried so hard to protect our communities from the worst of the cuts over the last six years by absorbing most of the impact ourselves but we just can’t do that any more.

“We can’t spend money we don’t have which is why we’ve had to take a long hard look at each and every service to see how we can achieve the savings we need to make.”

People can have their say at: www.sunderland.gov.uk/budget-consultation until Tuesday 3 January to take part in the consultation.

Copies of the survey are also available from consultation@sunderland.gov.uk or by phoning 561 1614.

The results of the consultation feed into the revenue budget which will be considered by February Cabinet meeting, ahead of the council’s budget setting meeting in March.