This year’s Labour Local Government Conference, in Nottingham on 8 February, is one of the most important we’ve held in years.
Our party is at a crossroads, and the result of the leadership election will determine whether Labour aspires to be a serious party of government again.
The reaction from the candidates to questions from councillors at our hustings about their view of Labour in local government will also signal whether they understand the new relationship of respect that we deserve.
“Every leadership candidate… must understand the importance of councillors to the party’s future”
There are already positive signs that candidates are eager to listen and learn from local councillors, and some have already started to contact councillors to outline how they intend to work with us. We are working hard to ensure every candidate understands that they must respect and trust Labour councillors and local councils, and that they truly understand the vital importance of councillors to our party’s future.
The Tories have their own challenges, of course – and their first major test is coming from the ‘Fair Funding’ Review, which threatens to demolish their claim to be ‘levelling up’ all areas.
The LGA Labour Group’s analysis of figures published by the LGA has revealed the true impact of the review, with hundreds of millions of pounds in adult social care funding set to be funnelled from metropolitan councils like Stoke-on-Trent and Rotherham towards shire counties.
Overall, Labour-controlled councils would lose a total of £327 million, while Tory councils gain £298 million.
Thirty-seven new Tory MPs – more than 70 per cent of Conservative gains at the 2019 General Election – represent communities that are set to lose out, including the vast majority of the new so-called ‘red wall’ MPs.
These shifts are predicted to be the thin end of the wedge, with much greater funding transfers in core foundation funding and children’s social care likely to emerge from the Fair Funding Review.
Let’s hope that our challenge makes Prime Minister Boris Johnson think again, or those MPs will have to decide between standing up for their communities or prioritising their own careers.