Local Government Finance

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:31 pm on 22nd February 2017.

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Photo of Imran Hussain Imran Hussain Shadow Minister (International Development) 5:31 pm, 22nd February 2017

My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and I will come on to that later in relation to my own local authority, where the cuts are having a devastating impact.

The Secretary of State talked about the fair funding formula, as have many other hon. Members. I accept that, as some Members have rightly said, the needs of rural and urban areas need to be looked at. He rightly said that this was multidimensional and that the fair funding formula had to take account of all aspects. I must say, however, that the distribution of cuts so far—nine of the 10 most-deprived councils in the country have received above average cuts—has not been fair. For the formula to be fair, its administration must be directly opposite to the wholly unfair manner in which the local government cuts have been administered, given that some of the poorest councils with the highest deprivation have felt the harshest end of the cuts.

On the revenue support grant, I am a little disappointed. Pleas were made by many councils across the country. I welcome the fact that the Secretary of State has been proactive and gone out to meet councils and council leaders, but part of that is actually to listen to the serious concerns of local authorities and come back. According to figures for this year, the grant to my local authority is down by 25%—the percentage is much higher compared with 2010. We are down to the bone in Bradford Council. Tomorrow, the council will hold a budget meeting at which councillors from all sides will have to make some tough decisions. Of course, some services absolutely need protecting, but many others, including libraries, youth facilities, social care and other important services, will be up for discussion, and perhaps the level of service that should be provided will not be provided in the future.

I again urge the Secretary of State to listen to the pleas and visit the leader of Bradford Council to discuss the matter. He still has time, alongside his other reviews, to reconsider the equitable nature of the allocation and to look again at those authorities that are in serious trouble. The stark reality is that a good percentage of local authorities up and down this country might not make it as far as 2020 because the funding available for the services they provide will not be adequate. I ask him to look at that again.