Local Government Finance

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Attorney-General – in the House of Commons at 4:47 pm on 10th February 2015.

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Photo of Clive Betts Clive Betts Chair, Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee 4:47 pm, 10th February 2015

That is interesting. If the hon. Gentleman is saying that the fundamental problem was a major dislocation in Europe and the world because of the banking crisis and collapse, it is difficult to blame it solely on the Labour Government. After the major dislocation and the recession, the economy had started growing by the time of the election in 2010. It then went back into recession. That is what happened.

We are where we are. Through all the austerity and the pain of service cuts, the deficit is at least half of what it was. In other words, the Government have missed their target by at least 50%. That is the position. Nobody will dispute that, will they? It is fairly clear that the Government missed their target by at least 50%.

We have had all that austerity, but has it been fair? Has it been fair to local government as a whole, to Conservative councils as well as Labour councils, because they will make that point strongly? Why has local government been asked to bear the biggest burden? There is another way of putting that: why do Ministers believe that the services our communities receive from their local councils are less important than other public services? That is important.