Local Commonwealth Games levy

Part of Birmingham Commonwealth Games Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 1:45 pm on 11th June 2020.

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Photo of Liam Byrne Liam Byrne Labour, Birmingham, Hodge Hill 1:45 pm, 11th June 2020

I, too, wish to speak in support of new clause 2; we would be content this afternoon with a commitment from the Minister that he will explore this proposal with the Chancellor in the spending review, which we know is forthcoming.

I shall give some numbers, because I think they will help this debate. The total cost of the Commonwealth games is about £778 million, about three quarters of which is being provided by Her Majesty’s Government. Some £184 million is coming from Birmingham City Council and its partners, with £25 million going towards the Alexander stadium from the combined authority, plus a further £165 million going to kick-start the housing development, including the athletes’ village, from the combined authority.

I say that because the Minister will be aware of two significant risks to the local contribution, which makes up about a quarter of the budget. First, there is a risk to the local government contribution. At the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet said to local authorities up and down the land, “Do whatever it takes to get through this crisis, keep the receipts and we will pay you back on the other side.” The House will be amazed to learn that the deal is now beginning to unravel and the Minister’s Cabinet colleague in the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is beginning to query whether all the bills will be paid. In a city such as Birmingham, that means we could be confronting a deficit of £164 million this year. That is why the Minister has an obligation to take steps now to de-risk the local contribution to the games.

It is not just Birmingham City Council that is in jeopardy; the combined authority is, too. We revealed just a week or two before the elections were postponed that the Mayor’s budget has a £1.2 billion black hole in it. He has made commitments £1.2 billion in excess of the funds he has available. That is because he failed to get his precept through, he failed to get any movement on supplementary business rates and the funding that was going to novate from the local enterprise partnerships to the combined authority has not come through. In addition, there is a £700 million funding gap on the transport plan, because the Department for Transport is beginning to query some of the transport schemes. The broad point I want to make is that coronavirus has created a significant risk to the local authority contribution, and it would appear that there is a significant risk in respect of the combined authority as well.