Time running out for Sunderland residents to have say on next year’s council budget

Sunderland Civic Centre.
Sunderland Civic Centre.
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Time is running out for Sunderland residents to have their say on next year’s budget.

Just three weeks remain on the consultation as to which services should be prioritised in another tough review of spending.

Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson.

Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson.

Sunderland City Council has already warned that it needs to slash another £74million from its spend by 2019/20.

The figure comes after cuts by central Government has seen the authority having to save £250million in the last six years.

Council leader Paul Watson said: “The Government’s austerity programme is continuing to cripple the council, alongside increased demands on council services for adult social care as the population ages and more investment needed to support vulnerable children.

“We’ve worked very hard over the last six years to minimise the impact on our residents, communities and businesses by cutting our back office functions, and we’re looking to cut these further to a bare minimum.

The Government’s austerity programme is continuing to cripple the council

Coun Paul Watson

“The council now employs 4,000 fewer staff than it did in 2010.

“Areas where this has had a particularly noticeable impact for the public include grass cutting, litter bins and street cleaning services which saw a 30 per cent reduction in staffing budgets in 2016.

“We know this is a service residents hold dear and it’s one we tried to protect for as long as possible.

“But while we understand residents’ concerns and share their frustration that we can’t provide the services we once did, we’ve had no choice other than to reduce this and other services because we can’t spend money we don’t have.

“We also understand their frustration at seeing their council tax rise at the same time as reductions in the services they receive.”

Coun Watson is calling for people to take part in the budget consultation to help the council decide which priorities are most important and how its limited spending power should be allocated.

“We want people to help us makes the right choices for the city by telling us which services are most important to them but we also want to hear from individuals and communities who are interested in working with us to make Sunderland a better place.”

The online survey can be completed at www.sunderland.gov.uk/budget-consultation until Tuesday, November 22.