Extra money for environmental services and social care to be considered.

Details about what could be Sunderland City Council's next budget are discussed next week.

The council's Cabinet meeting on Wednesday 10 January is looking at budget proposals that include:

• An extra £1.5m, alongside the £500,000 invested last year, for supporting environmental services such as cleaning, bin and recycling collections, and prosecuting litter bugs and fly-tippers;

• £4m extra in children's social care and an extra £2.7m in adult social care are also being considered.

Councillor Mel Speding, the City Council's Cabinet Secretary, said: "The Government has not given Sunderland any extra money to address the pressures that are being felt in our city's adult and children's social care.

"There is huge uncertainty not just for us here in Sunderland but up and down the country on how local services are going to be funded and maintained in coming years.

"In real terms (after taking account of inflation), the council now has a third less money available to spend on delivering services than it did back in 2010 - this is the reality behind the Government's austerity programme.

"Any household, individual or organisation with a third less money available to it would have had to make very hard and difficult choices, and that's exactly what the council has had to do in its recent budgets.

"In making these decisions about how and where scarce and scarcer resources are used, there has inevitably been an impact on our city.

"Nonetheless, residents have told us about their street scene and environmental concerns and therefore the council is looking at an investment of £1.5m to continue more work on making our city greener and cleaner.

"It's also right and correct that we look after the young and vulnerable in our city, and further investment in care and safeguarding work are proposed."

The budget investments are proposed as the council is also continuing a series of cuts and saving programmes that has seen more than £290m of cuts from its budgets since 2010.

Councillor Speding added: "Financially it's a bleak outlook. On top of the cuts we've had to make since 2010, we have already agreed a further programme of almost £30m cuts for the next three years through to 2020. However with all this pressure on services, the council must make more cuts and review more services in the coming years."

A figure for the proposed Council Tax for 2018/2019 will also be tabled at the Cabinet meeting. Last year Sunderland's Council Tax increased by five per cent (4.99), including a three per cent adult social care precept suggested by the Government.

The £4.2m raised in Sunderland's adult social care precept has gone towards helping and supporting older and vulnerable people in care homes, and more than 4,000 people who receive care in their own homes.

At December's Cabinet meeting, proposals for an additional £60m of investment of one-off capital spending such as on highways, plant and equipment, school buildings and other infrastructure, were agreed as budget proposals.

A one-off investment of £2m to support this year's Tall Ships Event in July is also being proposed. The event is due to see hundreds of thousands people visit Sunderland and forecasts suggest they could be spending more than £35m in the city.

The final budget meeting is on Wednesday 7 March and last year the council agreed that it would have £633m for spending on public services.


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