Your Member of Parliament for Harrow East

Andrew Percy MP

Opposition Day debate on Local Government Funding

Speaking during the Opposition Day debate on Local Government Funding Bob Blackman MP spoke about his extensive history working in local government and identified the fact that over the past three years, local authorities have faced 3.5% reductions or efficiency savings forced upon them by the former Labour Government. As a consequence of these reductions, 23 of the 32 local authorities suffered greatly with below inflation budget increases. If we do not take the education budget into account there is a clear real-term reduction in funding in London spanning over the past three years. This is not a situation that can be justified.

 

Labour made clear at the General Election that they would have halved capital expenditure- this is not the position of the Coalition Government who are working hard to ensure that capital expenditure is preserved.

 

Mr Bob Blackman MP has commended the removal of artificial ring-fencing from local government expenditures. With time limits placed upon particular budgets, money is often lost unnecessarily. Mr Blackman welcomes the simplification of local government procedures and calls for improved computer data systems that collate information once rather than the multiplicity of systems under the Labour Government. These improvements would ensure simplification and remove changes for fraud and mistake. Bob said: “We spend more than £1 billion on administering housing benefit, but why does every authority need a separate back-office organisation for that? Those contracts are administered by a small number of suppliers, so why not combine them, strip out some of the administrative overheads and remove duplication?”

Bob continued to talk of smarter procurement in local government and the necessity of value for money. It is often the case that tenders for local government inflate their prices above what the private sector would accept.


Bob urges the Government to develop a local insurance operation for London so that local authorities can come together to save money for local residents as well as providing significantly better services. Bob went on to say:  “We should consider what unused assets local authorities have. An awful lot of land could be sold in appropriate ways and the money could be used for appropriate reinvestment in the local area. We also need to consider local authority balances. Some authorities have sums of money sitting totally unused instead of benefiting the public, whereas other authorities have very small balances and will find the reductions much more painful. Many authorities need to examine their conscience and use those resources to benefit local people.” Bob Blackman concluded by commending the hard the work of Harrow Council and their plan to save 10% of its expenditure per year.

To read the entire debate, follow this link: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2010-12-06a.26.1&s=speaker:24945#g106.0

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