Local Government Finance

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:14 pm on 7th February 2018.

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Photo of Jim McMahon Jim McMahon Shadow Minister (Housing, Communities and Local Government) (Devolution) 5:14 pm, 7th February 2018

I want to lay out the case, and then there will be a long time for debate—but only if I rush through this to allow time for people to speak.

Central Government funding of local services has reduced by 40%—less money when demand is increasing—and we all know that it has not been distributed evenly. The overall reduction has hit local authorities with lower tax bases hardest because they are more dependent on central Government grant. The UK Government’s total spending on local government, as a share of the economy, has fallen sharply. In 2010, it accounted for 8.4% of the economy; by 2022, the figure will be down to 5.7%, which constitutes a 60-year low. Yet councils in England still have 1,200 statutory obligations. They have less money, but the same is required of them. That has had an impact on people, in that 811 fewer people now work in local government. The local government workforce today is the lowest since comparable records began, when the central Government workforce is the highest that it has been since comparable records began. Moreover, the figures are not fairly distributed across government, let alone geographically.

If austerity had not kicked in and affected our local council base, councils today would have £14 billion more than they have. That would be sufficient to deal with the crisis in social care and the crisis in children’s services.