Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

Part of Department for Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons at 6:45 pm on 2nd July 2019.

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Photo of Rishi Sunak Rishi Sunak Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government) 6:45 pm, 2nd July 2019

I think we are talking about two different issues. One is the issue of who is responsible for delivering public health, and I am strongly in favour of local government’s continuing responsibility. As for the budget, the Chairman of the Select Committee will know that it is ring-fenced. As that is rolled into business rates retention, it is of course right for there to be a proper governance and assurance mechanism.

The most recent Budget provided £650 million in new funding to help councils respond to pressure on both children’s and adults’ social care, and we have heard much about that today. It comes on top of the billions of pounds of extra funding in previous Budgets for adult social care, and it is starting to make an enormous difference on the ground. The number of delayed transfers of care has fallen by 50% since the peak, and 93% of councils agree that joined-up working with the NHS through the Better Care Fund is improving outcomes.

Gareth Snell set a good challenge for Governments to follow when he spoke of place-based funding. The improved Better Care fund is just one aspect, but we should clearly aim to do more in that direction, pooling budgets locally among different agencies when it makes sense. Manchester is the most evolved model in that regard, and I have enjoyed getting to know the team there and seeing the results that its work is having.

My hon. Friends the Members for Thirsk and Malton (Kevin Hollinrake) and for Redditch (Rachel Maclean) talked about the importance of a long-term solution. That is not my remit, but I hope that the Secretary of State is giving good consideration to the joint work of the two Select Committees on a social insurance model. Rachael Maskell reminded us that prevention is better than cure, and I fully agree with her.

I am very proud of the work that our Department has done in leading the highly successful troubled families programme, which has supported more than 400,000 families through an innovative early intervention model utilising a key worker and a whole-family approach. The results have been excellent. Children have been saved from going into care, people are coming off benefits and going into work, and crime and antisocial behaviour have been reduced. Ultimately, families are becoming stronger. It is a privilege to meet the people who are executing the programme on the ground, and those visits are some of the most humbling that I make. I know that that programme, and those workers, are making an enormous difference to the lives of some of our most vulnerable citizens.

Finally, let me touch on the work of councils in supporting strong communities. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Redditch about that. The Government see it as a critical task, and we are helping councils to build cohesive, safe and local communities up and down the country—places that we are proud to call home. We have provided additional funds to enable councils to build cohesion in areas on which migration has had a particular impact.

We have worked with my hon. Friends the Members for Redditch and for Stoke-on-Trent South (Jack Brereton) to come up with various support schemes for the high streets, which are now worth more than £1.5 billion. We have helped councils to make improvements to local roads—the essential arteries of our community life—with a £420 million fund to deal with potholes. We have provided new money for parks and green spaces, which has brought about the creation of more than 200 “pocket parks”. Those little havens of greenery make all the difference to the community, especially in the more deprived areas.

Just those few examples demonstrate the breadth and depth of our commitment to helping local government to build vibrant and cohesive communities in the places that they serve. Whether they are driving economic growth, caring for the most vulnerable in society or building stronger communities, local councils across the country do an amazing job. That is what makes it such a privilege for me to have this role, and to champion local government in Whitehall and in Westminster. Local government deserves our backing, local government is getting our backing, and I commend the estimates to the House.

Question deferred (Standing Order No. 54)

The Speaker put the deferred Questions (Standing Order No. 54).