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Local Government Finance

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:13 pm on 5th February 2020.

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Photo of Jake Berry Jake Berry Minister of State (Cabinet Office), Minister of State (Cabinet Office) (jointly with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government) 1:13 pm, 5th February 2020

I hope you will bear with me a moment, Mr Speaker, because this is the first time that I have had the opportunity to speak in a debate with you in the Chair as Speaker. As the MP for an adjoining constituency and a fellow Lancastrian, I congratulate you on the amazing start you have made as Speaker. You have restored gravitas to the office of Speaker and you are doing an excellent job.

I beg to move an amendment, to leave out from “House” to the end of the Question and add:

“welcomes the Government’s provisional local government finance settlement, which will deliver the biggest year-on-year real terms increase in councils’
spending power for a decade;
recognises the pressures on adult and children’s social care as well as critical local government services, and welcomes the additional £1.5 billion available for social care in 2020-21;
notes that the Government has listened to calls for a simpler, up-to-date, evidence based funding formula and has committed to consult on all aspects of the formula review in spring 2020;
further welcomes the Government’s ambition to empower communities and level up local powers through a future Devolution White Paper;
and welcomes the Government’s progress on this agenda already with the £3.6bn Towns Fund and eight Devolution Deals now agreed.”.

As we entered a new decade, this country voted emphatically for a new Government and a new approach. People discarded the politics of division and deadlock that had beset the previous Parliament for so many years. It was the people who gave a new mandate to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to drive forward his vision for our nation—a vision that will see communities levelled up and opportunity spread equally throughout the country, just as talent is already spread. We will level up every single nation of the United Kingdom and drive forward our Government’s agenda.

What have we heard today from the Labour party and the Opposition spokesman? They have learned nothing from their December drubbing—nothing from the people of Redcar in the north-east, nothing from the people of Heywood and Middleton in Greater Manchester and nothing from the people of the Don Valley in Yorkshire. Each of those areas, which had been Labour—[Interruption.] I know that Labour Members do not want to talk about the general election, which was the worst Labour performance for a generation, but we have a mandate and I intend to set out what that mandate means, in line with our amendment. Each of those areas, which had been Labour for a generation, rejected the politics that we heard from the Opposition today.

Let us not forget—although I bet he wishes we would—that Andrew Gwynne was the general election campaign co-ordinator for the Labour party. Like a Japanese soldier emerging out of the jungle decades after they have lost the battle, he has chosen to return to Labour’s failed policies of division and deadlock. We heard him pit urban areas against rural areas, towns against cities and local government against national Government. It is absolutely clear that only the Conservative party—