Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Local Government Finances

Part of Opposition Day — [1st allotted day] – in the House of Commons at 9:49 pm on 8th December 2009.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Barbara Follett Barbara Follett Minister of State (the East of England), Regional Affairs, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (the East of England), Department for Communities and Local Government 9:49 pm, 8th December 2009

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

We in the Chamber should have known better, because we have wasted an opportunity this time. In his opening remarks, the Opposition spokesperson, Robert Neill, conceded that the three-year settlement was a good thing. On that, if very little else, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State agreed with him. He pointed out that this year, the last year of that three-year settlement, councils will get a 4 per cent. increase in funding, bringing the investment in local government to £76.3 billion in 2010-11.

The Liberal Democrat spokesperson, the hon. Member for Falmouth and Camborne, at least managed to get off the subject of who did or did not initiate this debate and why. For the record, let me point out again that the House will have a chance to debate the settlement for 2010-11 when it approves the finance report in January. I will certainly try to find out what happened to the letters. I have a copy here and will give everyone one later. I was sorry that the hon. Lady did not develop her party's ideas a little more clearly. She spent most of her time telling the other parties what they were doing wrong and hinting at what she might do right if the Liberal Democrats got into power.

My hon. Friend Mrs. Humble was quite a change: she was positive and proud. I really understood her pleasure in seeing her constituency develop in the way that it has. Like her, I have seen changes in my constituency, Stevenage. I am glad that she has found the prudential borrowing regime so helpful.

Despite remarks from the Opposition, my hon. Friend Mr. Slaughter has been a doughty campaigner for his constituency, including against the injustices that have come in under the Conservative council.

James Brokenshire made some thoughtful comments about the high proportion of elderly residents in Havering and the growing number of older people, with whom Governments of all types will most certainly have to deal in future, and deal with seriously. I hope that he will welcome the Government's engagement with the issue of future funding for adult social care, and also that he will get involved when his local authority makes representations to the consultation on the distribution of concessionary fares that is now being held by the Department for Transport.

Mr. Pelling made some telling points about highways maintenance in Croydon. This is a problem across the country, and he will no doubt welcome the fact that we are keeping the formula under review, including the area cost adjustment, to which he referred, in relation to highways costs. Of course, Croydon and other London boroughs are welcome to put their evidence into the review being held by the Department for Transport, and I hope that they will do so.

I realise that I might have been impatient and immoderate at the beginning of my speech, but, as someone who cares deeply about this place and its reputation, I do not think that any of us did it any good today with the kind of debate that we indulged in. Local government finance is a highly technical and complex area that would benefit from a much more in-depth debate than the one we had here today. I regret that we have wasted our time in this way.

Embed this video

Copy and paste this code on your website