The topic of the debate had been proposed by Mike Amesbury and it took place in Westminster Hall. In the opening statement of the debate, Mike Amesbury referred to the 49.1 % cuts to local authority funding since 2010-11:
Our local government leaders take decisions and hold responsibility for budgets that directly affect their constituents just as much as, if not more than, many members of parliament. They deserve more recognition and respect for that than they are sometimes given. However, since 2010 their very challenging job has become almost impossible. The National Audit Office report makes it clear that funding has been cut by nearly 50%.
In his speech, Matt Rodda spoke about the difficulties of recruiting staff to children’s services departments in Reading because staff did not receive London weighting even though housing costs were still high. He went on to say how Reading had been prevented from building more council houses:
There are issues with both pay for staff at those grades and the ability of local authorities to provide their own council housing. Reading had a plan to build 1,000 council houses, which sadly was stopped by George Osborne.
The government was represented by the parliamentary under-secretary of state for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Heather Wheeler. She spoke about extending the pilot business rates schemes, in which Reading is participating along with other Berkshire authorities this year, to more local authorities. She added:
Local authorities are the engines of local growth. They know best the levers to pull to boost their business rates, which is why business rates retention is an important move. Our aim is for local authorities to retain 75% of business rates from 2020-21, with the other 25% going to councils that do not have a large business rates take.
The NAO report was published on 8 March and is the first report on the financial sustainability of local authorities since 2014.
- Matt Rodda
- Matt Rodda at TheyWorkForYou
- Matt Rodda’s website
- UK Parliament website
- NAO Financial Sustainability of Local Authorities 2018
- National Audit Office
- How members can suggest a debate
- Berkshire local authorities to pilot new funding system
- RBC welcomes £355k additional social care funding