SUNDERLAND has been hit up to four times as hard by council and welfare cuts as more affluent areas in the south, according to new figures.
Research reveals the North East is the worst hit region in the country, with Wearside experiencing cuts of £626 per head.
Today the leader of Sunderland City Council warned the extent of the changes meant it was becoming “increasingly difficult” to protect some of the city’s most vulnerable residents.
The figures, independently compiled by Newcastle City Council and Sheffield Hallam University, show the joint impact of the local authority and welfare cuts in 2014/15.
Councillor Paul Watson said: “These figures help reinforce to everyone the harsh reality of the effects spending and welfare cuts are having on families in our city and across the region.
“We would urge the Government to consider the disparities which have emerged across the country, and act accordingly to lessen the burden on those regions already bearing the brunt of the economic situation. We are working hard to help people with practical advice and support wherever possible, and to continue to deliver services to meet their needs given the financial constraints we and other local authorities are operating under.’’
According to the latest figures, the least affected area is the South East of the country where the cuts amount to an average of £182 per head.
In the North East, Hartlepool is worst affected, suffering losses of £724 per head, followed by Middlesbrough, £696, and South Tyneside, £663. But Councillor Robert Oliver, leader of Sunderland Conservatives, argues the figures need to be looked at in a wider context.
He said: “We really need to look at the overall spending for Sunderland and not just certain budgets in isolation.
“Local authorities in the North East are still funded much more than those in the South East. Sunderland receives approximately four times as much total Government funding as somewhere like Surrey.
“We do well in terms of pupil premium which is having a significant impact on results for children in schools.
“We have also seen a lot of money invested into Nissan which is helping create jobs across the city. There is also the £80million to fund the new Wear crossing.’’
Northumberland was the least affected area of the North East, receiving cuts of £428 per head.