Mark Conrad 29 January 2018

Labour accuses Government of 'holding back' local government

Labour MPs have urged ministers to provide ‘strategic vision’ for local government.

They accused the Government of ‘holding back’ the sector through lack of funding and an absence of long-term planning.

In its latest local government health check, Labour’s shadow ministerial team warned that council finances were on the brink, and would not be stabilised by the minimal settlements and policy tools currently being offered by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Shadow communities secretary, Andrew Gwynne, said: ‘The Government must provide genuinely new money to fund our public services.’

Labour’s researchers warned that councils were being swamped by additional new costs such as the National Living Wage.

The analysis read: ‘It was hoped that this expense would be funded within the local government finance settlement, but it was not referenced.’

Labour’s shadow team also reiterated its call for the local government finance settlement - traditionally announced just before Christmas - to be brought forward so that councils can better plan their budgets.

Speaking at a conference earlier this month, Smith Square’s head of local government finance, Nicola Morton, said: ‘They [councils] don’t know how much income they are going to have. We are asking for the settlement to be a little bit earlier. An earlier Autumn Budget would mean earlier statements. That would be helpful.’

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