I start by thanking the Backbench Business Committee for allowing this debate on this incredibly important matter. I thank the hon. Members for Hackney South and Shoreditch (Meg Hillier), for Sheffield South East (Mr Betts), for Birmingham, Ladywood (Shabana Mahmood) and for Newton Abbot (Anne Marie Morris) for supporting the application, along with all the members of the Public Accounts Committee. I also thank the hon. Members for Redcar (Anna Turley) and for Warwick and Leamington (Matt Western), who submitted similar applications that have been lumped in with this debate. I also give my thanks in advance to everyone who wants to speak today; I will be as quick as I possibly can.
Local government spending is a story of unsustainability and inequality. According to the Local Government Association, which is holding its conference as we speak, funding to local government and business rates have fallen by £4.1 billion since 2015. Councils have far less spending power, but here is the rub: our local councils are having to deal with a big growth in demand for key services. Taking into account the decrease in Government grants, subsidised a bit by the increase in council tax, our councils have lost nearly a third of their spending power over the last nine years, and key services are suffering.
We all know what that means, at its heart, for the most vulnerable in our communities. Since 2010 the number of homeless households has risen by 33%, the number of looked-after children is up by nearly 11% and the number of people aged 65 and over in need of care has increased by 14%. It is great that we are living longer, but central Government have not grasped the nettle.
Combined with higher national insurance contributions, the apprenticeship levy and the national living wage, councils are at breaking point. Given the major stresses on children’s services and adult social care, I will focus on those today, but there are many others, and I look forward to other Members making contributions about their local area.