In this blog, the Leader talks about spending and investment on some very exciting plans and projects.

This evening (Wednesday, 6 March) full Council will meet to consider the budget for the next financial year.

I am delighted that we can announce spending and investment on some very exciting plans and projects to boost Sunderland's economic regeneration, helping us create a dynamic, healthy and vibrant city with opportunities for everyone, as we commence the delivery of an updated and ambitious City Plan.

Listening to what residents have told us, I am very pleased that we will be giving more resources to the Area Committees to address local priorities, allocating additional funds to support Sunderland's growing reputation as a world class events city and investing more in environmental services to make our streets and neighbourhoods, including the city centre, cleaner and more attractive.

Importantly, we are also allocating funding to support pressures in social care services for the most vulnerable people in our city and as always, we have worked very hard to protect residents and key frontline services as far as possible, from central Government's ongoing austerity measures.

To be able to set a balanced budget for the next financial year, as we are legally required to do, funding all of the above and much, much more, is an incredible feat by the elected members and officers involved, against a backdrop of sustained unfairness in the allocation of Government funding to cities such as ours.

For a decade now, the council has had to make ever tougher funding decisions and this year, to fund what we need to, we need to raise Council Tax by 4% (which includes 1% mandated by Government to support adult social care).

I sincerely wish this wasn't the case but in making huge reductions in the grants we receive from them, hitting cities and regions like ours particularly hard, central Government passes on the responsibility for funding vital services to local councils and to residents.

Brexit is almost upon us, and the council has been working hard within a regional partnership to ensure the city is as prepared as it can be for any potential impacts and we will continue to do all we can to support residents and businesses.

At the same time, we will press ahead with the exciting plans and developments mentioned above, and we will also enjoy our football team's success in getting to the Checkatrade final on 31 March. Well done Sunderland, we're all right behind you as you prepare to bring the trophy home!

Cllr Graeme Miller

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