Ways and Means — Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation — Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:59 am on 20th March 2015.

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Photo of Hilary Benn Hilary Benn Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government 9:59 am, 20th March 2015

I will come on to that very point in just a moment if the hon. Gentleman is willing to be patient. He will have seen what Councillors Keith Wakefield and Peter Box have said about the new Leeds city region deal. Peter Box described it as “disappointing”, which I would call one of the kinder comments. What has really got up the noses of the existing combined authorities is that Labour’s offer of 100% retention of business rate income growth has been made to Manchester and Cambridge but not to the other existing combined authorities. Why is that?

For all the Government’s rhetoric about the “northern powerhouse”—now running a close second to “long-term economic plan”—the truth is that the most deprived parts of the country have faced the biggest cuts in local authority funding. Yes, Labour will change the formula because what the Government have done is unjustifiable. There is nothing empowering about taking a load away and then giving a little less back.