Local Government Finance

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:38 pm on 5th February 2019.

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Photo of Jim McMahon Jim McMahon Shadow Minister (Housing, Communities and Local Government) (Devolution) 7:38 pm, 5th February 2019

The Government have been very good at shifting money from those who need it most to areas that will secure the support of their Back Benchers. How many times today have we heard Conservative Back Benchers praising their Front Benchers and thanking them for giving in to their lobbying? So much back patting has gone on as Government Members congratulate each other on taking food off the tables of the poorest in society to shift funding to the richest.

We have heard time and again from Conservative Members how much more expensive services are in rural areas. There is no doubt that some services are more expensive to deliver in rural areas by unit cost. However, let us look at the evidence. In 2014, the Government commissioned a report that examined every single service that local authorities deliver throughout England. It showed that it is true that some, but only 15%, of services are more expensive in rural areas. In urban areas, 31% of services are more expensive, and whether areas are urban or rural has no bearing on the delivery of 50% of services. The evidence therefore shows that services are more expensive to deliver in urban areas. That is because the deprivation is ingrained and generational. It is tied to the local economies, and councils are there to try to keep it all together.

When our communities have asked for hope and direction, what have they been given? Not even warm words or an acknowledgement of the human cost. Now more than a million older people do not get the social care they would have got in 2010. Children who are at risk of violence and abuse are not given the protection they need, because the Government have walked away and said that it is nothing to do with them. It is everything to do with them. When other Departments were fighting their corner, where was the Ministry? When austerity first struck, local government was hit hardest. We have lost 800,000 members of staff from local government. We have the lowest number of staff since comparable records began, yet the central Government workforce is the largest since comparable records began. Local government has taken more of a hit than any other Department. Within local government, Labour-controlled areas have taken the hit, and that is politically motivated.

The Government had the chance to put this right today. They have failed to be fair and just, and failed the people we come into this place to serve. Shame on the lot of you.