Schedule 1 — Local retention of non-domestic rates

Part of Local Government Finance Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:45 pm on 18th January 2012.

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Photo of Helen Jones Helen Jones Shadow Minister (Communities and Local Government) 4:45 pm, 18th January 2012

My hon. Friend has hit on another flaw in the Bill and that is one reason for our complaining earlier about it being rushed through. Such matters need to be considered in detail.

If service provision is to be increasingly based on the ability to raise local business rates and council tax, this Bill has nothing to say about the levels of need. For example, parts of the area I represent used to be heavily industrialised. It is now a mixed area because a new town was built, but part of it was a mining community and we had heavy industry. Many other local authorities have much worse problems than my area, but all those areas are still dealing with the long-term health issues linked to heavy industry and poverty. That is why in an area such as Halton, a neighbouring authority to mine, one in five of the population has a limiting long-term illness. That is why the north-east has higher levels of deprivation, child poverty and poor health than the English average. Sunderland, for example, has 34 neighbourhoods that are in the top 10% most deprived areas of the country. The legacy of poor health, deprivation and poverty is what many local councils are constantly striving to deal with. There is no lack of effort on their part or lack of will. The failure is not theirs, but results from a long industrial heritage followed by the collapse of much heavy industry in the ’80s and ’90s.