Keir Starmer’s election as Leader of the Labour Party has already seen a refreshing change in Labour in local government’s relationship with the party leadership.
We are also delighted to see Morgan McSweeney, the former head of the LGA Labour Group’s office, appointed as Keir’s Chief of Staff – which will be reassuring to the many councillors who know him well.
“Councils have spent huge sums on the immediate impact of this crisis”
Keir was quick to ask LGA Labour to organise a Zoom meeting with all Labour leaders, during which we articulated significant concerns on personal protective equipment, testing, and council finances.
Our concerns on council finances were triggered by Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick MP appearing to backtrack from his earlier pledge that councils should do ‘whatever it takes’ in tackling the crisis and expect full compensation from government.
Such a U-turn would be a betrayal of the hard-working council staff who are dealing with this crisis on the ground and the vulnerable people we are trying to protect. Councils have spent huge sums of money on the immediate impact of this crisis and missed out on even bigger sums in lost income.
Already massively underfunded after a decade of austerity, we do not have the power to borrow to cover revenue spending – so ‘sharing the burden’ would mean cuts to vital services, less support for the vulnerable, and job losses for the very staff who are keeping our public services going.
All councils should join together to hold the Government to its pledge.