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Local Government Responsibilities: Public Services

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

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

I entirely agree. There is a huge role for social media in the sort of organic, spontaneous co-ordination that we are seeing, but there is also a role for the public sector, particularly local authorities. It would be very helpful for the public to hear a clear communication from the Government that we entirely support and encourage this sort of voluntary effort, but that anybody who wants to try to match volunteers with households and so on needs to plug into local government in parishes and towns, particularly in rural areas such as the one with which I am concerned.

Secondly, on local authorities’ lost income, I hear the points that have been made very powerfully about the additional burdens that will be placed on local authorities as a result of the demand that we are going to see, but councils are also going to endure lost income as a result of this crisis. In Wiltshire, we are worrying about up to £25 million-worth of income that is normally received through all sorts of activities such as leisure services, parking, council tax and so on. We are stepping in to support businesses with lost revenues, but we need to think about how to do that for councils as well—not just helping them to meet the additional demand for services, but compensating them for their losses.