I thank the Chair of the Select Committee for all his work and that of his Committee over the year. He is right to say that the figures we quote of an up to 4.5% real-terms cash increase in core spending power are dependent on the choices that local councils make in the weeks and months ahead, but one would expect that; local councils and the local democratic process will have to balance up the competing interests of providing public services and ensuring that hard-working people are not facing excessive increases in local council tax, and those will be different judgments in different parts of the country.
I will of course keep the covid costs being incurred by local councils under review. We have made good on our promises time and again since the start of the pandemic. Early in the pandemic, the Local Government Association came before the hon. Gentleman’s Committee and estimated that costs incurred by local councils would be around £10 billion. We are going to end this financial year having provided local councils with, I suspect, about £10 billion, and we are providing further billions of pounds into next year. So we can see the Government’s commitment and determination to support local councils.