Local Government Financing

Part of Opposition Day — [2nd Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 5:52 pm on 29th June 2010.

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Photo of John Hemming John Hemming Liberal Democrat, Birmingham, Yardley 5:52 pm, 29th June 2010

Interestingly, we did not ring-fence anything in our manifesto. We were clear that there was a severe financial problem and spending cuts would have to be found. The Labour party revealed so little in its budgets and concealed most of the figures and budget cuts, so it was difficult to put all the figures together, but Members will find that, when I explained the situation in debates during the general election, I made it clear that we faced serious problems. If the Opposition are going to have such a row about what is a minor point compared with the overall magnitude of the difficulty, I do not know what will happen over the next few years. There are some real problems to face, and we need to maintain services.

The point that the hon. Member for Sheffield South East made about adults' and children's services was very important. In Birmingham we use the brighter futures programme, and there are ways of working more closely with the people whom we support in communities, and of working with mutual bodies to try to ensure that services are provided. There have been problems with assessment systems in the past. The simple approach of just changing the priority on assessment did not result in any savings, because off the back of that all the assessments were changed. There are serious problems, and the Opposition should recognise that they are responsible for them. They should try to be part of the solution rather than the problem.

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