£19.6m of Sunderland City Council reserves earmarked for supporting Covid recovery

City leaders have earmarked nearly £20 million of specific reserves to support Wearside’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 5:51 pm
The decision was made at a meeting of Sunderland City Council’s ruling cabinet.
The decision was made at a meeting of Sunderland City Council’s ruling cabinet.

The decision was made at a meeting of Sunderland City Council’s ruling cabinet meeting this week (Tuesday, June 15).

A report prepared for the panel earmarked specific reserves totalling £19.615 million to meet ‘high priorities’ linked to Covid recovery.

These ranged from supporting families, improving open spaces and boosting digital connectivity, to delivering activities for children and young people and developing triathlon events.

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Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of the city council, introduced the proposals to cabinet at Sunderland Civic Centre on Tuesday, June 15.

He told the meeting: “It is proposed that specific resource of £19.615 million is earmarked to meet a number of high priorities aligned to Covid recovery activity within the city.”

Some of the earmarked reserves include:

£2 million to provide low level family and preventative support “to address the challenges of recovering from the pandemic”; £3.5 million to deliver a range of streetscene and open space projects as well as a further £480,000 for environmental services staffing to keep the city clean; £4.1 million to deliver the council’s smart city ambitions and to continue to tackle the ‘digital divide’; £1.7 million provided to Together for Children to deliver a range of Covid recovery activities for children and young people; £1.2 million funding commitment to support the council’s ambition to deliver triathlon events for the city over a number of years in conjunction with British Triathlon.

Several members of the cabinet welcomed the proposals, which formed part of a report on the council’s revenue budget outturn for the 2020/21 financial year.

Councillor Louise Farthing, cabinet member for children, learning and skills, praised the additional support for families and Together for Children.

“It’s obviously extremely well needed because of the rates of increasing poverty across the city which is something which is deplorable,” she said.

Councillor Linda Williams, cabinet member for Vibrant City, also welcomed the allocation for families and preventative support.

“That’s a huge investment in families within our city who have been absolutely hammered by this pandemic,” she said.

“It’s very much about trying to support them to be able to be successful as we move forward, it really couldn’t have gone to a better use I would suggest.”

Other elements of the specific earmarked reserves ranged from £3 million for a ‘transformation fund’ to cash for “behaviour change”(£460k) and “keeping residents informed” (£200k).

A report to cabinet adds: “As well as investment in specific projects, working with our residents is vital to ensure that they are kept informed of the work of the council but also how they can play their part in creating a more healthy, vibrant and dynamic Sunderland, so that all parties are working towards the same outcomes.

“These funds [behaviour change and keeping residents informed] will support a range of activities to promote the city, develop civic pride and community working, and provide funding in the current year for a quarterly mailer to all homes in the city.”

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