Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Council Tax Hike Backed by Sunderland Council

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Council Tax Hike Backed by Sunderland Council

Article excerpt

Byline: CHRIS BINDING Local democracy reporter

COUNCIL bosses have given the green light on plans to raise council tax by almost 4% in Sunderland.

An increase of 3.99% is being sought by Sunderland City Council, a proposal which was first outlined in November last year in the authority's budget planning.

On February 13, the rise was tabled and formalised by cabinet ahead of a final decision next month.

The changes would see an increase of around 70p a week - or PS36.16 a year - for the majority of households in Sunderland who are in a Band A property.

For Band D properties, tax will rise by PS1.04 per week with residents set to pay an extra PS54.25 per year.

One per cent of the increase is also linked to the adult social care precept which helps to fund services to nearly 3,800 Sunderland adults with disabilities or illnesses.

Cabinet secretary, Coun Paul Stewart, speaking at Sunderland Civic Centre, stressed that the council tax rise was needed as councils continue to have their budgets squeezed.

In Sunderland's case, the authority is facing a budget gap of more than PS54m up to 2021/22 with a need to cut PS25m in 2019/20 alone.

"This council's ability therefore to deliver even on a statutory basis for Sunderland services for the most vulnerable in our communities is going to be severely tested and challenged in years ahead," Coun Stewart added.

At the meeting, council bosses blamed government austerity and funding cuts on difficulties around balancing the books.

Cabinet member for communities and culture, John Kelly, said: "It's another little con by the Conservatives who take away elements of funding and come back and say if you want you can raise that funding by charging your public directly.

"What they have done is taken away the subsidy we used to get from central government and they have directly placed it on the people of Sunderland. …

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