My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Let me say to the Secretary of State that if he will not listen to the Chair of the Committee, he should listen to the leaders of his party’s own councils, who are saying precisely the same. There is a cliff edge, and no action that the Government have taken so far has done anything to remove it. It may have pulled a few councils back and given them a few years before they topple over, but unless we fundamentally change the Government’s approach to social care services, we will not be able to solve the crisis in local government.
For the first time in England, we have seen a standard £2,000 tax bill introduced by a Conservative council. We have also seen the costs of the failures of this Tory Government. For instance, the cost of the failure of Tory-controlled Northamptonshire County Council has been pushed on to local people because the Secretary of State allowed it to raise its tax above normal limits as it grapples with bankruptcy. Local people are paying the price of Tory mismanagement: that is what happens when the Tories do not fund local government and are in charge of the town hall.
Austerity is not over, but across the country Labour councils and councillors are showing that it does not have to be this way. Under the shadow of the present Government, Labour councillors are innovating, standing up against austerity, and protecting local services. They are the torch bearers for the new politics that we will see with the next Labour Government. On
We need a Labour Government because we need a Government who are committed to funding children’s services, funding adult services, funding neighbourhood services, rebuilding our communities from the grass roots up, putting pride back into civic professions, and encouraging our communities to grow and prosper. We will rebuild this country, for the many and not the few. I commend the motion to the House.