I have been a councillor in my constituency for the last nine years. Much like my hon. Friend Chris Clarkson, I have sat through repeated budgets from a Labour-controlled council, and they have never needed any encouragement at all to increase council tax. Year after year in Bury, we have council tax increases. What is the reason for that? Clearly, it has not been pandemics or any other reason—it is down to sheer incompetence.
I have listened in amazement to some of the contributions from Labour Members. The plain fact of the matter is that the north of England has been blighted by a decades- long record of incompetence from Labour councillors, and that incompetence has been palmed off on to the poor taxpayer with continued tax rises. To hear some of the stories today is somewhat nauseating when my constituents have suffered as a result of continued incompetence from Labour authorities. One of the things that we never hear from Labour politicians is, what money do councils need? What do they want to deliver? What do they want local residents to see? In my area, it is very difficult to see what my Labour authority has changed or what innovative projects have been put in place, because none have. We have suffered through incompetence, and it is no good Opposition Members simply using tired old slogans and politics by soundbite, with no record in local government upon which to base any of these claims.
Over the last financial year, this Government have supported Bury Council with £107 million of extra spending, with further business support on top of that. That is an unprecedented level of support for my local authority. But we must hold local authorities to account. Democracy is both a national and local concept. Labour politicians would seek to hide the incompetence of Labour councils and mayoralties in the north of England by speaking in generalities about matters that are not affecting people’s lives.
I am proud of this Government; they have found the money to support councils through this pandemic period, and continue to find the money to support councils to deliver the services that are needed. Just once, I hope that the Labour party comes forward with proposals that would have an actual impact on constituents such as mine in Bury North, rather than just talking in generalities and soundbites, and setting up a social media storm that I am sure will hit all Conservative MPs the moment that this debate finishes.