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Local Government Finance

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:40 pm on 5th February 2020.

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Photo of Andrew Gwynne Andrew Gwynne Co-National Campaign Coordinator, Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government 12:40 pm, 5th February 2020

I will give way a little later on, because I have been generous so far.

The Tory-led Local Government Association estimates that if we continue on this current course, the funding gap will grow to £8 billion by 2025. That is an £8 billion gap not to rebuild our services after 10 years of cuts, but just to stay still: just to prevent already heavily stretched services from falling apart under the weight of growing demand, rising costs and wage inflation. I reiterate: it is £8 billion more needed just to stay as we are today. So, even if this £8 billion funding was provided, in full, by 2025, it would barely keep the sector’s head above water, allowing councils to continue delivering services at current levels, with no capacity to meet the growing need for services. It would be interesting to know whether the Minister considers that a sustainable way to finance the sector. As my hon. Friend Mr Betts, the Chair of the Select Committee, has mentioned in an intervention, research published today by the Local Government Information Unit shows that 73% of councils would not agree with Ministers. The Chief Executive of the LGIU has warned:

“Our social care system is no longer on the edge, it’s fallen off the cliff. Our children’s services aren’t at breaking point, they’re broken.”

That has real-life consequences: Age UK estimates that in the past two years alone, 74,000 older people died waiting for care. An average of 81 people a day, equivalent to three every hour, died before they received the care that they needed. This is not a political point; it should shame each and every one of us, on whichever side of this House we sit. Age UK states that 1.4 million older people are not getting the help that they need to carry out essential tasks such as washing themselves, dressing and going to the toilet. That is not just unacceptable; it is appalling. It is a stain on this House—on all of us—and on our country.