Local Government Financing

Part of Opposition Day — [2nd Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 7:30 pm on 29th June 2010.

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Photo of Caroline Flint Caroline Flint Labour, Don Valley 7:30 pm, 29th June 2010

If I can make a bit of progress, I might come back to the hon. Gentleman; I have only two minutes left.

The cost to society will be huge if we take short-term decisions that fundamentally disrupt some of the progress that has been made in different communities. The point has already been made strongly about Total Place programmes: it is not just about people putting money into a pot; it involves a difficult journey, getting different organisations to put their separate cultures to one side and come together for the community good. That is not easy, but we have made that progress by bringing health closer to local authorities. I am very glad that we now have a jointly appointed public health director, and that we see joint commissioning happening. My worry is that if local authorities and local government retreat, others will retreat as well. They will go into a bunker silo mentality. It happens at Government level, but it also happens at local level, and what we will see is a retraction.

As my colleagues have said, it is one thing for hospitals to make sure they have policies that mean that older people leave hospital quicker. That is quite right, but if adult social care in the community is undermined, where will those older people go? Where will the support be to make sure the plan is put into action-that Elsie or Sam can ensure that their home is adapted before they leave hospital, so they can actually be at home? The danger is that what is happening is very short term.

The private sector depends on the public sector for growth and for contracts. For example, there is no doubt that Yorkshire Forward, the regional development agency, has been fundamental in helping our airport to get off the ground-literally, as it were. What is going to happen about the investment that RDAs are providing? What assessment has been made of the loss of private investment following the abolition of the RDAs?

There is a lot at stake here. Of course we have to make cuts and reduce the deficit, but our plans showed that we could do it in a meaningful way that did not put communities on hold or even take them backwards. That is the danger of the proposals before us tonight.

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