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Local Government Finance

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:04 pm on 5th February 2020.

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Photo of Michael Tomlinson Michael Tomlinson Conservative, Mid Dorset and North Poole 3:04 pm, 5th February 2020

I am grateful for the hon. Lady’s intervention, but I do not accept her point. My point is that we need to look more broadly. The funding given to rural areas is not enough, including in my constituency of Mid Dorset and North Poole. I do not accept or recognise her figures. Indeed, I am sure the Under-Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, my hon. Friend Luke Hall, will dispute those figures, as the Minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth did in opening.

My hon. Friend Sir Robert Neill said that our local authorities needed greater security through a longer-term financial settlement. I understand what he says, and he makes a valid point about the need for a one-year settlement, but we need a longer settlement to give councils the greater financial certainty that is required. That will mean they can move on and be more strategic in future, so I welcome what the Northern Powerhouse Minister said in opening.

I hope the Under-Secretary will echo and re-emphasise the importance of this funding and reassure my councils in Dorset and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole that he recognises the need for a longer-term financial settlement.

Councils in Dorset have taken the brave and commendable steps to reorganise and to ensure that frontline services are given the greatest priority. Ever-increasing council tax is not a long-term solution, as I know Ministers recognise. I welcome the amendment in the name of the Prime Minister, and I will support it in the Lobby this afternoon.