Residents say they have been left unable to pay for school meals for their children after Sunderland City Council’s website stopped working.
A power failure has caused problems for the authority’s computing systems earlier this week.
The failure happened overnight on Monday, with bosses saying they are urgently trying to rectify the problem.
The authority’s business continuity and contingency plans for front-line services has been triggered.
Users are currently unable to get onto the council website, with a message of “We’ll be back” appearing on the homepage.
A message reads: “The City Council are currently experiencing IT issues.
“We are working to restore as quickly as possible.
“Apologies for any inconvenience.
“If you need to contact us via telephone please use 0191 520 5555 or for an out of hours emergency 0191 520 5552.”
Commenters on the Echo’s Facebook page revealed their frustration at the issue.
Laura Morton wrote: “I couldn’t pay for my child’s school dinner online. School had to sub me the money.”
Kelly Cairns added: “I haven’t been able to submit my son’s school application.”
On the Echo website, Ioona_2 wrote: “Tried phoning them and the contingency plans amount to the switchboard saying they cannot put me through to the department I needed and they cannot do anything because the system is down so they cannot use the computers to record anything.”
Councillor Harry Trueman, deputy leader of the council, said: “Following Monday’s overnight power failure that disrupted City Council computing facilities, work is continuing to restore networks and systems.
“As already stated, the council’s business and contingency procedures have been triggered.
“All critical front-line services, including social care, safeguarding and the telecare service are fully operational.
“Customer services are operating as usual as are all out of hours and emergency services.
“Email is also back up and running.
“While we have experienced some problems with updating personal information, such as for ‘changing circumstances’; day to day and front-line services, from waste collections to highways, are running as usual.
Staff have been working round the clock to resolve issues and get as many services back up and running as soon as possible since the power failure first came to light on Tuesday morning.
“We anticipate we will have a much clearer idea by the end of the Monday about any longer term impact.
“I would like to thank everyone for their patience and understanding on this matter.”