Row over Sunderland City Council's dire financial straits

City leaders have accused opposition chiefs of failing to back demands for more cash to help Sunderland through the coronavirus outbreak.

Wednesday, 15th July 2020, 4:11 pm
Sunderland Civic Centre

And while warning the pandemic’s financial fallout could continue into next year and beyond, Labour Party bosses at Sunderland City Council have called for greater cross-party consensus on the issue.

“We have consistently demanded additional funding from the government,” said Councillor Paul Stewart, the city council’s cabinet secretary.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“The local Conservative group has not only failed to support demands but repeated, like a broken record, that there is no more money from the government and we should use our limited reserves.

“It appears we have more faith in this government to deliver on its funding promises than its own local Conservative group.”

He added: “I call again on the local Conservative group to join us in seeking a commitment from the government that they will continue to provision additional financial support to local councils and hold them to their promise to do whatever it takes.”

Cllr Stewart was speaking at a meeting of Sunderland City Council’s (SCC) ruling cabinet, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.

The city council currently has savings worth almost £170million, but most of this has already been earmarked for projects and other schemes, leaving about £12million in the unallocated ‘General Fund’.

Finance chiefs have warned dipping into cash reserves now could leave Wearside vulnerable to future, more sudden financial shocks, especially if there is not also a suitable plan to replenish the funds once spent.

He added: “[I have previously said] the government should provide more money to councils as well as a package of measures to ease their financial burden over the next few years.

“It is welcomed news that Cllr Stewart has faith in the government.

“I hope he will work constructively in the interests of the city rather than trying to point score off the back of what could easily become an economic crisis.”

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news on this free-to-read site, I am asking you to also please purchase a copy of our newspaper.

Our journalists are highly trained and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards in the world. But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news and information by buying a copy of our newspaper.

Thank you

How to subscribe to the print edition

It’s easy to subscribe to your local newspaper. We have arranged a special 20 per cent off subscription offer for people to take advantage of. Visit, choose the newspaper title, the type of subscription and enter your details.