Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Local Government Finance

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

Alert me about debates like this

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

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. It is not just about social care, but the LGA has published the fair funding review calculations based on social care. It has also done the calculations for children’s services, for the foundation formula and for the public health grant. I would hazard a guess that they show exactly the same trends. He is absolutely right about County Durham, because the LGA’s analysis shows that the change in funding there since 2015 alone is already 29% down. The change in funding from the fair funding formula would equate to another 6.71% reduction—a £10,327,679 cut—for his constituency. Contrast that with Beaconsfield, for example, where there would be a 17.5% increase—nearly an extra £15 million of funding. That is not fair by any stretch of the imagination.

The issue is really straightforward for the Government. If they do not agree with the analysis, the response is simple: follow up on the promise made by the Under-Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Luke Hall, at the LGA conference in January and publish the exemplifications of the funding formula so that we can see exactly what the impact is. It really is that simple. If the LGA assumptions are now wrong, show us. Let councils, councillors and Members of this House see the exemplifications; we will then know how fair the fair funding review is to the different parts of England.

My worry is that what we know is just the thin end of the wedge. We know that the five least-deprived local authorities have, on average, seen their budgets grow—the least deprived local authority, Wokingham, saw its budget grow by 18%—but that has been gained at the expense of the most deprived. The top 5% most deprived local authorities face cuts of 22% on average. That is not fair. As I said at the start of my contribution, we know that those same local authorities do not have the same ability to raise income from council tax.

This is a scandal for those who claim to be one nation Conservatives. I genuinely believe that across all political parties not one of us stood for election to come to this place and introduce measures that will make life more difficult not just for the people we represent but for the poorest communities in this country. I like to give the benefit of the doubt even to Members from the Conservative party, so I hope that today Members from all parties will support our motion, or at the very least intensively and strenuously lobby Ministers and take a stand against what could cause misery for their constituents. This will be a major test of Conservative Members’ commitment to their constituents. I am sure that local people will not forgive or forget if they fail to stand up for those who put their trust in them at the election, knowing what we already know.

Finally, I say this to Ministers: be open, be transparent and publish the exemplifications. If they are anything like what the LGA, the LGIU and other local government experts fear, scrap the scheme and go back to the drawing board. A fair funding review that is genuinely fair will have our support.