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 Responsibilities: Public Services

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:23 pm on 18th March 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Danny Kruger Danny Kruger Conservative, Devizes 4:23 pm, 18th March 2020

I thank the Opposition for introducing this important debate, and the Minister for some very helpful information that he gave in his response.

Let me put on record my appreciation of the efforts of the ministerial team. This is an enormous crisis for everybody, but I want to congratulate them for the speed with which they are responding in ways large and small. Some of the information we have just heard is very helpful in small ways for councils, particularly as regards making it easier for councils to meet to do their business more flexibly given the crisis. That will be very welcome at local authority level.

I pay tribute to the spirit of the Opposition Front Benchers as well. It is absolutely tremendous to see how this House is coming together to address these issues. I want quickly to address two points. The first, which has been raised by other Members, is the amazing response of our communities to this crisis and to the impending demand for support from the elderly, in particular—it is absolutely wonderful to see.

I have some anxiety about how we will co-ordinate that effort in a way that does not stifle it. I was a community worker in north Kensington at the time of the Grenfell disaster. I saw a huge uprising and upsurge of voluntary support and effort—an outpouring of love and resources from the community—but there was a huge challenge of co-ordination. We are going to have to get that balance right in all our communities in the coming months. Today, I was speaking to council workers in my local authority of Wiltshire, where there is a good balance. Council staff are not attempting directly to co-ordinate the efforts of the volunteers and local community groups that are rising up. They are not trying to tell them what to do or how to do it. What they are doing is providing a hub for information exchange, and providing support when gaps do emerge.