Councils need pounds, not plasters

Labour Group members were delighted to have pushed the wider LGA to declare a climate emergency, reflecting our real determination to face up to the responsibility of taking action to limit global warming before it is too late.

We also shared brilliant examples of Labour councils’ fresh approaches to providing quality services (see our ‘100 more innovations by Labour in power’, at www.local.gov.uk/lga-labour).

“The greatest challenge to local government continues to be chronic underfunding

Everyone I spoke to agreed that the greatest challenge to local government continues to be chronic underfunding, with 60p of every £1 the Labour Government had provided in 2010 now lost.

The brief appearance of Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt at conference (both of whom were sadly unable to visit the LGA Labour stand) was a reminder of the damage done by the Conservative Party since 2010.

Neither has made any signal that he will change course on austerity in local government or make a serious attempt to tackle poverty, even while outdoing each other to offer tax cuts for people who are already well off.

Despite our determination to deliver for residents even in the face of austerity, many councils are now at breaking point. That’s why we launched our ‘Pounds Not Plasters’ campaign at conference, distributing blue Tory sticking plasters to delegates with the message that local councils need sustainable funding, not more short-term ‘sticking plaster’ measures.

Not just a gimmick, the sticking plasters campaign highlights our real concerns about the impending cliff edge in council funding, with councils left in the dark about what their budgets will look like in 2020.

Labour leaders are united in their determination to hold the new Prime Minister to account, and are writing to him to demand that he recognises the importance of local government by providing a genuine and sustainable long-term investment. Councils need pounds, not plasters.

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