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Let's Talk Budget

We work hard to provide over 600 services to residents and businesses across Sunderland but we continue to face very difficult funding decisions.

Whenever you step out of your front door you will see a wide range of our services including highways maintenance, schools, registrars, refuse collections and many more.

We'd like your views on how we allocate our budget going forward. Before we go into the details, it's important to understand some background information on our financial position.

Financial position

We have faced significant financial challenges over the last decade. Most council spending is funded by central government grants which means we are limited in how we spend it. This core government funding has reduced since 2010 and left us no option but to focus on providing the most essential services and make savings to balance the budget.

Like many councils we are dealing with increased demands for adults' and children's social care, while the cost of these services continues to rise. The Covid-19 pandemic has also seen increasing financial pressure across council services.

We also have to take into account pressures that increases in inflation cause on our controllable budget as the cost of delivering our services goes up.

Since 2010 we have lost over one third of our "core spending power" - this is the Government's measure of how much we have to spend on our core services. We have had to save significant amounts by improving our use of technology, streamlining services and getting the best possible value from the services we contract. We also know there are areas like fly tipping and anti-social behaviour where we could reduce our spend if this behaviour reduced.

You can have a look at our handy Let's Talk Budget video about how we currently spend our budget:

What we spend

Each year we spend in the region of £700m. But if we look at every £100 the council has to spend, half of this covers the many services we do not have direct influence over, like maintaining schools and housing benefit payments.

This leaves £50 which the Council can influence for day-to-day services. The majority of this goes towards protecting the most vulnerable people in our communities - from our growing ageing population to those children and young people who need our care and support.

We also spend on the areas you have told us in previous consultations are the most important to you and your neighbourhoods. This includes waste collection, local services like parks and open spaces or tackling litter and fly tipping, public toilets, street lighting, anti-social behaviour, access to housing, events, libraries and museums, sports facilities and inward investment including business centres.

The way we currently spend this £50 is shown in this simple diagram:

Let's Talk Budget pic 3

Council tax

We would like to know what you think about an increase in council tax. We currently raise just over £108 million in council tax each year. The Government has confirmed that it expects Councils like Sunderland to raise its council tax by 3% next year - 2% for core council tax and 1% for the adult social care precept.

A 3% increase for a Band A property would be an increase of 59p per week

A 3% increase for a Band D property would be an increase of 89p per week


Cabinet has just released its latest plans in terms of how we will balance our budget. These can be found in the Budget Planning Framework and Medium Term Financial Plan. This includes the use of £9m of reserves and saving plans of £5.821m.

Next steps

Thank you for sharing your views on how to allocate our budget, council tax increases, and other ideas or comments. We are currently analysing the feedback shared.

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