‘Radical’ services cuts likely as Sunderland council looks to save £36m

TOUGH TIMES: Coun Mel Speding.
TOUGH TIMES: Coun Mel Speding.
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CITY council bosses will be forced to make ‘radical’ changes to services as they look to shave another £36million off their budget, a senior councillor has warned.

The council has cut more than £170million of spending in the last five years as a result of a reduction in the money it receives from central government.

Plans for the revenue budget for the financial year 2015/16 will go before the council’s Cabinet on Wednesday, with the provisional capital budget and council tax rate to be announced at the meeting on Wednesday, February 11.

The budget is due to be formally agreed at a full meeting of the council on Wednesday, March 4.

Cabinet Secretary Coun Mel Speding said: “It is clear that, as more cuts are required, the ability to protect frontline services and deliver even statutory functions is becoming increasingly difficult.

“More radical change will be needed along with even more targeted use of the money available.

“The council’s role will increasingly need to shift from delivering services to enabling individuals, communities and other organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors to work together to address the needs of the city in new ways and encourage people to be more self-supporting.

“Despite repeated claims that local government financial settlements are fair to everyone, Sunderland and other similarly deprived authorities are seeing disproportionate funding cuts and this results in higher impacts upon our communities.”

Proposals under consideration include a review of services for people with learning disabilities, aimed at saving almost £3million, and changes to the way the council looks after older children in care, which it is hoped would save £500,000.

The proposals are aimed at saving as much as possible from non-front line services and looking at news ways to increase council income, such as the recently-announced 10p an hour rise in parking charges.

Bosses have been consulting with interested groups including trade unions, the business community, and voluntary sector on the budget plans.