Councils would be £1.5bn better off under a Labour Government, the shadow secretary of state for communities and local government tells Labour conference.
Speaking in Brighton yesterday, Andrew Gwynne told delegates that the Government’s austerity drive was a ‘political choice’ that has hit the poorest communities hardest.
‘Police cuts. Fire Service cuts. SureStart closures. The crisis in social care. They all have the same root cause: a Tory dogmatic vision of a smaller state,’ he insisted.
‘Austerity is a political choice. And we also know their cuts have hit the poorest communities the hardest. But it doesn’t have to be this way.’
Mr Gwynne acknowledged councillors had been forced to make difficult decisions over the last seven years and accused the Tories of attempting ‘to devolve the blame for their cuts away from Whitehall - to local councillors in town halls.’
Years of outsourcing and privatisation had also ‘hollowed out’ the capacity of councils to deliver for communities, he told the audience.
‘All too often, when savings are made, it is because services are cut back, charges are introduced, and the pay and conditions of our valued public service workforce are attacked,’ the shadow secretary of state explained.
‘Meanwhile, those decisions are hidden behind a cloak of commercial confidentiality.’
Labour, though, would ‘deliver a renaissance of local government’.
Mr Gwynne said a Labour Government would deliver a Bill to rebuild local services by giving councils greater powers to deliver services.
He also promised they would extend transparency and Freedom of Information rules and end the two tier workforce with a ‘Fair Wage’ clause.
‘We understand that it is by the strength of our common endeavour that we achieve more together than we do alone,’ Mr Gwynne concluded.
‘And it is communities – properly empowered and renewed – that are at the forefront of delivering that Labour vision of a better, fairer, more equal society.’