Local Government Finance

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 4:44 pm on 8th February 2012.

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Photo of Hilary Benn Hilary Benn Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government 4:44 pm, 8th February 2012

My hon. Friend makes that point very forcefully. I wonder whether Hammersmith and Fulham will still be the Secretary of State’s favourite council once he becomes aware of what it has been doing, in marked contrast to what the Prime Minister of the party it supports said at the time of the election—but then that is sadly familiar, too.

We cannot get much more front line than making sure old people have a hot meal every day or get their shopping done, or helping people to remain in their own home by building a ramp or putting a shower on the ground floor, so whatever the Minister of State was thinking when he answered an earlier question, or whatever the Secretary of State was thinking in December when he described the draft settlement as

“enough to safeguard the most vulnerable, protect taxpayers’ interests and the front-line services they rely on”,

I would gently say to them that they must recognise the damage that such comments do to the credibility of DCLG Ministers. Every time they say such things councillors, officers and people in local communities look at each other and ask, “Don’t they have any idea of what is actually going on in the world we have to live in?”