In my constituency, I have two local authorities—Dover District Council and Kent County Council. I have been working closely on the ground with both councils during the pandemic. The response by the council officers has been absolutely outstanding, particularly the senior team in Dover, led by Nadeem Aziz, Roger Walton, Tim Ingleton and Brinley Hill, together with our dedicated Conservative leaders, Councillor Trevor Bartlett of Dover and Councillor Roger Gough of Kent.
Reliance on local government has never been stronger. That is why it has been so right to ensure that it has the financial and resource support to deliver on the ground. Undoubtedly, there are financial challenges at this time both nationally and locally, but there is no doubt whatsoever that the scale of funding and support to the councils in my area makes a real difference. For Dover and for Kent, the scale of financial support from Government has been immense—getting on for £100 million in covid additional funding alone. The Conservatives’ support and funding will keep down council tax bills. My area has a strong tourism and hospitality sector. We have received £48 million in business grants and business rates relief. We are set better for the future, with a £3.2 million award for future high streets funding.
In addition to managing the pandemic, the councils in my area have two big expenditure items to fund and deliver, which cost more for every council tax payer because of the Opposition’s failure to support sensible, Conservative policies. These items are social care and illegal migration. Kent County Council has calculated that it has a funding hole in its reserves of over £24 million directly related to the cumulative costs of illegal entry into our country, whether through the small boats route or lorries coming into Dover. This is in addition to local policing and other costs.
If the Opposition want to reduce the tax impact for people in my constituency from illegal migration, I expect them to fully support the Conservative Government’s changes to bring in fair migration, tackle illegal migration and enable returns. If they do not, then they simply show that not only do Labour councils cost you more, but the Labour Opposition want to cost you more, too. Only a Conservative Government are committed to both doing the right thing and costing you less.