Sunderland Labour Group has today [28 Feb] slammed proposals by the Sunderland Conservatives and Lib Dems to reduce funding for vital community projects.

Submitting their proposals for how the City Council budget should be spent during 2024 – 2025, the Sunderland Conservatives outlined a £1million reduction of the city’s Neighbourhood Budget, which funds activities and support for young people across the city, as well as projects to tackle anti-social behaviour.

The Conservatives proposals also included a £944,000 reduction of the city’s carbon budget and a reduction of £207,000 in events funding, £1,862,000 on new road works and anti-speeding measures targeting motorists in the city.

Cllr Phil Tye, chair of Sunderland Labour Group, said: “The budget proposals put forward by the Sunderland Conservatives for Sunderland City Council prove just how out of touch they are with the hardships of ordinary people.

“Over the past 14 years, crippling cuts to key public services and the Conservative’s cost of living crisis have resulted in everyday people in cities such as Sunderland, yet again, picking up the bill for the failings of Government.

“While the Conservatives have frivolously thrown away billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on dodgy contracts – which they are still refusing to investigate – it is every day, working people who have had to pay through rising costs and taxes. 

“Meanwhile, the Sunderland Conservatives, in all their wisdom, seem to think the answer is not to pressure the government to claw back the billions wasted on dodgy PPE and ‘VIP Lane’ contracts, but to strip £1million of neighbourhood funding from our local communities.

“Not only that, but to add insult to injury, they have also suggested using the funding they’re taking to fund projects in the areas which have Conservative councillors. It’s a tactic straight out of Rishi Sunak’s playbook where he was caught sneering about taking more money from deprived areas and giving it to the more affluent.

“It begs the question, do those making these decisions for the local Conservative party actually know what it is like for ordinary families who are suffering due to the cost of living crisis? If they do, then they certainly have a funny way of showing it.”

The proposals put forward by the Liberal Democrats included cutting the budget for council communications – including axing resident newsletters which provide an important means of sharing updates with people in the city – and cuts to the Area Committee programmes which equally distribute funds to communities across the city for youth programmes and community groups.

The Lib Dems also backed calls by the Conservatives to reduce the city’s carbon reduction budget by £944,000.

Cllr Tye added: “The fact that both the Lib Dems and Conservatives have included the exact same carbon reduction figures in their proposals is evidence that, once again, these two parties are one and the same.

“Just like the Clegg and Cameron coalition that introduced the crippling austerity measures – the effects of which are now coming to fruition with public services in crisis – these two parties seem to be doing everything in their power to punish the people of Sunderland.

“Whether it’s taking money from those most in need, undoing all of our hard work to make Sunderland a cleaner, greener city or scrapping resident feedback programmes, all these proposals do is provide evidence of why these parties can not be trusted to represent residents of our great city.”