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Local Government Responsibilities: Public Services

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:34 pm on 18th March 2020.

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Photo of Luke Hall Luke Hall Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government) 3:34 pm, 18th March 2020

I thank Barbara Keeley for the constructive and collaborative tone she has taken in this debate. She has raised a number of very sensible and serious questions. I will do my best to answer as many as I can, and I will try to make sure the ones I cannot answer are answered in the wind-up.

I join the hon. Lady in putting on record my thanks to local authorities across the country for their wholehearted response to the coronavirus crisis and for reassuring and supporting residents. I have seen that with my local authority, and I am sure Opposition Members have seen it with their local authorities, too. I know hon. Members on both sides of the House will join me in recognising the contribution local authorities will make in the weeks and months to come as we move through this difficult time for our country.

As the Prime Minister has said, this is the worst public health crisis in a generation. We are committed to responding, and our measures are comprehensive. We are offering UK-wide support to ensure people in all four corners of the country receive the help they need. Our fiscal action will support public services, households and businesses, and whatever resources the national health service needs, it will get.

I am working closely with the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government and with ministerial colleagues across Government to ensure councils get the funding they need to see their residents through this crisis. Our priority response is to provide security and support for those who get sick, and for those who are unable to work, through the direct funding of public services. Of course, we stand ready to do whatever is necessary to support councils in their response to the coronavirus.

The Secretary of State addressed over 300 council leaders in England on Monday and outlined the three priority areas on which we are asking them to focus in the weeks and months ahead: social care, supporting vulnerable people and supporting local economies.