‘We’re taking a greater hit than others’ – Sunderland to lose £13million Government funding

Sunderland Civic Centre
Sunderland Civic Centre
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SUNDERLAND faces a cut of almost £14million from its Government payout next year.

The cash will be slashed during the coming financial year, when city chiefs will see a 4.7 per cent reduction compared to this year’s funding.

Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson

Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson

The fall is the largest any of the authorities across Tyne and Wear will deal with, with £284.3million allocated compared to £298.2million this year.

Councils in England are facing an average 2.9 per cent cut in overall funding, with the Government insisting it should leave them with “considerable total spending power” of £2,089 per home.

It added it will give them the stability and certainty needed to plan budgets and “move ahead with transforming local services and ongoing efficiency.”

In Sunderland, the average amount per household is between £2,151 to £2,800.

Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis also announced that Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles and Chancellor George Osborne have agreed measures to allay council concerns that central government support for council tax freezes might be withdrawn on a “cliff edge” basis in future years.

St Chad’s Councillor Robert Oliver, leader of Sunderland’s Conservative council group, said: “Due to the need to continue with deficit reduction, the settlement for local Government is tough but councils have been able to make savings and deliver better services, despite having less money.

“The settlement also includes funding for another council tax freeze which, it is hoped, Sunderland will accept, so residents avoid a tax hike and can spend more in the city.”

At the start of this year, Sunderland City Council said it faces the task of trying to make a saving of £100million during the next three years and cuts for the next year would be “significantly higher than assumed”.

Councillor Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council, said today: “The city council has begun looking at the implications of the latest funding announcement from central government.

“Sunderland has already taken more than £100million out of its budgets over the last three years and has been anticipating that a similar amount would come out over the next three years.

“There is more to digest in this update and the devil may be in the detail.

“What is apparent is that Sunderland is taking a greater hit than other similar-sized authorities who have similar levels of deprivation.”

Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, claims figures she has seen show the grant will have a cumulative cut of £60million over the next two years.

She said: “Sunderland residents won’t be fooled by the Government’s spin.

“Yet again our area is facing huge cuts, which – after three years of officers and councillors making all possible reductions in ‘back office’ costs – can only mean frontline services being hit even harder than ever, or charges for services going up.

“Local Tories will need to explain to their constituents why Sunderland and other areas of deprivation are being hit so much harder than the leafy Tory shires.”

Durham County Council is set to see a drop in its budget next year of just over £19million, from £510.3million to £491.3million, a reduction of 3.7 per cent, with the same amount of funding allocated per household as Sunderland.