Time for a true end to austerity

A flailing Boris Johnson has closed Parliament for one of the longest periods of prorogation in decades after losing all six of his first important votes in the Commons and despite Brexit being entirely unresolved.

“Local communities should be given the powers they need to take back control

Many are looking to a General Election to provide a way out of the mess but, with public opinion divided, there is a good chance that a new Parliament will be just as unable to provide a solution as this one.

One apparent certainty is that October will bring the first Queen’s Speech for almost two and a half years, and that perhaps gives us a novel chance to talk about issues other than Brexit! For Labour in local government, it’s also chance to talk about our key priorities for the next Labour government.

Unsurprisingly, Labour councillors all agree that the most pressing priority is for a true end to austerity. For all that the Government made a big hullabaloo about the Spending Round providing an extra £1.6 billion in funding for councils next year, this is a drop in the ocean when compared with the £16 billion lost since 2010.

The savage cuts made to local public services by the Conservative government in the past decade must never be allowed to happen again – so we’d like to see legislation put in place that would introduce an independent Sustainable Funding Commission, set up on similar lines to the Low Pay Commission, which will make binding recommendations on the minimum level of funding required by local government to ensure that councils can carry out their responsibilities.

Local communities should also be given the powers they need to take back control. The Queen’s Speech should include a Devolution Bill, co-produced by local and national government, to put local people and communities at the heart of decision-making, and permanently fix the imbalance of power between Westminster and local communities.

I look forward to discussing all of this further with my Labour colleagues in Brighton – see you there.

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The £3.5 billion in funding for local services announced in the Spending Round in September…