Local Government Finance Settlement

Oral Answers to Questions — Communities and Local Government – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 25th November 2013.

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Photo of Luciana Berger Luciana Berger Shadow Minister (Public Health) 2:30 pm, 25th November 2013

When he expects to announce the provisional local government finance settlement for 2013-14.

Photo of Brandon Lewis Brandon Lewis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Communities and Local Government

We will announce the provisional local government finance settlement for 2014-15 and the consultation after the autumn statement and in line with our usual timetable.

Photo of Luciana Berger Luciana Berger Shadow Minister (Public Health)

Is the Minister aware of the devastating impact that his Department’s £329 million cuts are having on my local council in Liverpool? By 2016-17, there will be a £17 million shortfall in funds for services that the council is legally obliged to deliver, and zero spending on discretionary services. This is a crisis waiting to happen. Will the Minister please tell the House where Liverpool should find the money?

Photo of Brandon Lewis Brandon Lewis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Communities and Local Government

I strongly suggest that the hon. Lady use her persuasive powers to make the council put its huge balances to good use. It receives one of the highest grants in the country and has a spending power of £2,700 per household, which is £500 per household more than the English average, and is even more than the metropolitan average. I suspect that the best thing that the hon. Lady can do is tell the council to be sensible about how it spends money, which means not increasing council tax to punish the hard-working people of Liverpool.

Photo of Guy Opperman Guy Opperman Conservative, Hexham

Council tax benefit support grant is a key part of the money that central Government give to parish councils. This year, Labour-run Northumberland county council has said that it will not pass the grant on to the local town and parish councils. Does the Minister agree that that is specifically wrong?

Photo of Brandon Lewis Brandon Lewis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Communities and Local Government

I thank my hon. Friend for raising that important point. We made it clear this year that councils should pass the money down to parish councils, and my hon. Friend is right to put pressure on councils that do not do what they are supposed to do.

Photo of John Healey John Healey Labour, Wentworth and Dearne

Ministers have been saying the same thing since 2010, but what this Minister has not said is that the decisions made by him and his colleagues have been hitting the poorest areas hardest with the biggest cuts in council funding. Why must five years of a Tory Secretary of State mean that the cuts in the budgets of councils in the south-east will be half the size of the cuts in inner London or in the three northern regions?

Photo of Brandon Lewis Brandon Lewis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Communities and Local Government

Our banding floors protect the councils that are in the greatest need. For example, funds for the right hon. Gentleman’s own council, which still has a spending power of about £2,100 per household, are being reduced by just 1.5%, the English average being 1.3%. That is line with what the Government expect local authorities—which take up 25% of public spending—to do to clear up the mess of the deficit and debt left by the last Labour Government.