DCSIMG

Cost of burials, parking and pest control set to go up as Sunderland weathers £70million cuts

Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson

Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson

SUNDERLAND City Council bosses will tomorrow outline how they plan to make £70million worth of savings over the next two years.

The authority has to cut costs by £35.55million next financial year and £35.37million the year after due to Government grant reductions and spending pressures.

Proposals drawn up in a bid to cut expenditure and generate more income include reviews of charges for car parking and pest control, as well as the abolition of the authority’s Switch programme.

There are also plans to increase charges for burial and cremation, a move forecast to bring in £255,000 over the next two years.

The proposals are due to go before the council’s cabinet tomorrow.

The latest report to councillors contains proposals to meet the full £35.55million of cuts required next year and £22.44million in savings the following year, leaving £12.9million of savings still to be found the year after.

If agreed, the report will form the basis for a second stage of consultation. Final budget proposals will then be submitted to cabinet next month.

Waste collection services are also set to be affected. A reduction in the city’s fleet of bin wagons is proposed, and staff would move to a four-day working week, saving £2,308,000 as part of a review of city-wide services over the next two years.

Council leader Paul Watson said: “Areas such as Sunderland which are more dependent on grant funding are being hit the hardest. You only have to look at National Audit Office figures to see the unfairness.

“The cut to needs-based funding is 13 per cent in 2014-15 and almost 19 per cent in 2015-16.

“That’s 32 per cent over the next two years.

On top of a cut in Government funding for the fourth year running, Coun Watson said the council also has to factor in rises in energy and fuel costs.

The council’s deputy Conservative group leader, Peter Wood, said: “Reductions are, in many cases, regrettable, but the country has inherited this deficit from the previous Labour government, and cutbacks are essential.

“We have to make sure we are as efficient, as lean and mean, as we can be.

“It is very important that we retain weekly refuse collections, and the Government is funding Sunderland City Council to do that.

“The four-day week has been discussed for some time. We all agreed it had merit as long as it was agreed with the unions.

“Clearly, as a group we will look at the overall proposals and have amendments to make.

“If they are prepared to go on as we think they should, a council tax increase would not be necessary.”

Independent group leader Colin Wakefield added: “There are so many issues that the budget coming before the committee throws up, and we will have to review this into next year.

“Lots of these Government changes were implemented before they were very clear to anyone. We appear to have lots of confusion.

“It’s very hard to have a meaningful budget discussion with so many what-ifs.

“We need to get the issues slimmed down and more focused.”

The total reductions across all areas include, less Government grant reductions:

Corporate and cross cutting:

Strategic and shared services – £1.025million in 2014/15 and £1million in 2015/16

Integrated commissioning services – £600,000 in 2014/15

ICT – £250,000 in 2014/15 and £750,000 in 2015/16

Corporate allocations – £9.2million in 2014/15 and £1.57million in 2015/16

Cutting revenue contribution to the capital programme – £2million in 2014/15

Abolishing the Switch severance scheme – £3.2million in 2014/15

Maximising income (including relating to council interests in the Port of Sunderland and Newcastle Airport) – £1.1million in 2014/15 and £400,000 in 2015/16.

Procurement – £200,000 in 2014/15 and £200,000 in 2015/16

Customer service network – £400,000 in 2014/15 and £500,000 in 2015/16

•Total: £17.975million in 2014/15 and £3.970million in 2015/16

Place and Economy:

Smarter working (review of premises and repairs) – £702,000 in 2014/15 and £100,000 in 2015/16

Land and property (operational costs) – £703,000 in 2014/15 and £385,000 in 2015/16

Economic development grants – £250,000 in 2014/15

Review of Citywide Services – £1.519million in 2014/15 and £789,000 in 2015/16

Car Parking – £336,000 in 2014/15 and £433,000 in 2015/16

Bereavement services – £105,000 in 2014/15 and £150,000 in 2015/16

Highways and network management – £1.431million in 2014/15 and £200,000 in 2015/16

Pest Control – £51,000 in 2014/15 and £50,000 2015/16

Responsive local services (includes taking on 30 new apprentices) – £761,000 in 2014/15 and £216,000 in 2015/16

Energy – £500,000 in 2015/16

Public health – £3million

•Total: £8.858million in 2014/15 and £2.823million in 2015/16

People:

Impact of previous year’s savings – £1.744million in 2014/15 and £100,000 in 2015/16

Changes to family home care and community support services – £100,000 in 2014/15 and £35,000 in 2015/16

Commissioning arrangements (including children’s safeguarding and school transport) – £827,000 in 2014/15 and £1.265million in 2015/16

Early years and childcare – £439,000 in 2014/15

Children’s centres – £460,000 in 2014/15 and £100,000 in 2015/16

Health and Social Care – £290,000 in 2014/15 and £3.210million in 2015/16

Sunderland Cares – £2.594million in 2014/15 and £824,000 in 2015/16

Personalised budgets – £245,000 in 2014/15 and £1.3million in 2015/16

•Total: £6.699million in 2014/15 and £9.934million in 2015/16

 

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