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Local Government Responsibilities: Public Services

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:04 pm on 18th March 2020.

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Photo of Ben Everitt Ben Everitt Conservative, Milton Keynes North 4:04 pm, 18th March 2020

These are unprecedented times. One thing that comes through quite clearly for me is community spirit. It was illustrated by my hon. Friend Sally-Ann Hart, and will be the thread that runs through my remarks, and probably through everybody else’s remarks as well.

I must draw the House’s attention to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests as I am a councillor. I say that these are unprecedented times, but in local government we have had unprecedented times for quite some time. I remember back in the late noughties, we had the Barnet Council graph of doom. I do not know whether any fellow local government finance aficionados remember this, but it is the point at which the cost of adult social care rises and the amount of central Government grant goes down—it is the point on the graph at which those two things intercept. We are well past that now, so local government is used to reacting to changing financial circumstances and filling that gap with either locally raised revenue through taxation or locally raised revenue through commercial ventures.

Rachel Hopkins mentioned the powers used by local government in Luton relating to commercial activities around the airport —[Interruption.] They have an airport, what can I say? The point here, of course, is that there are many ways of skinning a cat, and local government has had to face adverse circumstances in the past, and I am sure that our friends in local government will rise to this challenge as it stands today.