Local Government Finance

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 6:05 pm on 3rd February 2010.

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Photo of Neil Turner Neil Turner Labour, Wigan 6:05 pm, 3rd February 2010

My hon. Friend replicates my account of my own experience, which is shared by many people who were councillors in Labour-controlled authorities, in particular. As was pointed out by my hon. Friend Dr. Starkey, who is no longer in her place, the Conservative Government used to gerrymander the system of grants to suit their own local authorities.

The Secretary of State could have done that, in response to the world recession that we are in, but he did not. Unlike the Eton old boys, we have learned some lessons. We learned not just in the 1980s and 1990s, but in the 1930s, that the way to make sure that we come out of a recession is not through public sector cuts, but by investing in that to slow the recession down and by investing to grow for the future.

The effect of the present policy, compared with the 1980s, is remarkable. In my borough, we have half the number of job losses that we had in the 1980s and 1990s, half the number of mortgage repossessions, and half the number of businesses going bust. Local government is a major factor in that. Obviously, central Government play a hugely important role, but local government is able to put the funds from central Government into ensuring that people's homes are protected, businesses are supported and jobs are saved.

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