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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 my right hon. Friend for those words. She is absolutely right: we should commend our public servants and local authorities hugely for the work they will be doing in the days and weeks ahead, and I would like again to put on the record my thanks to them. If Matt Western will bear with me, I will touch on his point a little later.

We have already outlined an extensive package of support to combat the effects of this crisis. A lot of the points made by the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South and other hon. Members were, rightly, about future funding for local authorities. I completely understand that, and perhaps it is worth addressing that at the start of my remarks.

The Chancellor announced last week that £5 billion would be made available for the public service response, with more to come if and when it is necessary. Let me say right from the start that we know that councils are under considerable financial pressure in responding to this crisis. We know that they will need more financial support from the Government, and we will give them that support. We are still having conversations with the sector—the Local Government Association and councils —to refine exactly what that might look like, but we will outline further steps we intend to take in this area very shortly.