West Midlands leaders call on Theresa May to reverse cuts to local councils
As the Conservative Party Conference comes to a close in Birmingham, Labour politicians from across the West Midlands have called on Prime Minister Theresa May to reverse the austerity handed down to local government under successive Tory governments.
The letter – which has been signed by leaders of councils, MPs, MEPs, the Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands, leaders of Labour Groups, Labour parliamentary candidates and trade union leaders in the West Midlands – as well as Leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn – asks the Prime Minster to recognise the impact of austerity on local government, to reverse the cuts, and to give local authorities increased powers to raise and retain revenue locally.
The full text of the letter is below:
Dear Prime Minister –
We, the undersigned Labour council/group leaders, MPs and PPCs, Police and Crime Commissioner, and trade union leaders in the West Midlands, wish to add our voices to call upon the government to recognise the catastrophic impact which eight years of uninterrupted austerity has had on local government.
Cuts have consequences and the people of the West Midlands have had enough.
Local government is the primary provider of numerous essential services, which allow our country to operate on a day-to-day basis. It is the first port of call for children in need of care, for those facing homelessness and those fleeing domestic abuse and violence or caring for the elderly. We are responsible for quality controls on housing in the rental sector, responsible for maintaining our local infrastructure, preserving our public green space and bin collections and local sanitation. Local councils support libraries, leisure facilities, youth services and grassroots arts.
Budget restrictions (in the form of direct cuts and budget pressures) have meant losses of almost 50 per cent for councils across the country. This has had disastrous knock-on impacts for services, as the stop-gaps that were once in place to prevent destitution have been stripped back. Already, a number of councils have cut their services to a statutory minimum, with more likely to follow in the coming months and years.
The Local Government Association believes that councils will have lost 77 per cent of their budget by 2020, and Conservative Chair of the LGA, Gary Porter, says that will leave an £5.8 billion funding gap for local government. He warned: “We won’t be cleaning the streets, we won’t be cutting the grass, we won’t be putting streetlights on at all, your libraries will go, your potholes won’t get filled up.”
We believe that the huge increase in crime we have seen in recent years, decline in life expectancy and increase in foodbank usage, homelessness and rough sleeping are inevitable consequences of the destruction of the social contract between citizen and state. We believe government’s current path of austerity leads to infrastructural and social collapse.
We therefore call on government to reverse the disastrous policy of austerity that has dominated thinking in the Treasury since 2010 and has been disproportionately weighted against local authorities.
We also demand complete reform of Local Government funding to make councils more sustainable and more accountable to the local electorate. Local authorities should be given the power to set local taxes and retain local revenue, allowing the proceeds of growth to be kept locally.
Cllr Ian Ward, Leader Birmingham City Council
Cllr Pete Lowe, Leader Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council
Cllr Roger Lawrence, Leader Wolverhampton City Council
Cllr George Duggins, Leader, Coventry City Council.
Cllr Steve Eling, Leader Sandwell Council
Cllr George Adamson, Leader Cannock Chase District Council
Cllr Shaun Davies, Leader, Telford & Wrekin Council
Cllr Julie Jackson, Leader Nuneaton & Bedworth Borough Council
Jack Dromey, Member of Parliament Birmingham Erdington
Richard Burden, Member of Parliament Birmingham Northfield
Roger Godsiff, Member of Parliament for Birmingham Hall Green
Steve McCabe, Member of Parliament for Birmingham Selly Oak
Jess Phillips, Member of Parliament Birmingham Yardley
Preet Gill, Member of Parliament Birmingham Edgbaston
Liam Byrne, Member of Parliament Birmingham Hodge Hill
Khalid Mahmood, Member of Parliament for Birmingham Perry Barr
Shabana Mahmood, Member of Parliament for Birmingham Ladywood
Ruth Smeeth, Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent North
Gareth Snell, Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent Central
Paul Farrelly, Member of Parliament for Newcastle –Under-Lyme
Colleen Fletcher, Member of Parliament for Coventry North East
Jim Cunningham, Member of Parliament for Coventry South
Geoffrey Robinson, Member of Parliament for Coventry North West
Ian Austin, Member of Parliament for Dudley North
Valerie Vaz, Member of Parliament for Walsall South
Emma Reynolds, Member of Parliament for Wolverhampton North East
Eleanor Smith, Member of Parliament for Wolverhampton South West
Pat McFadden, Member of Parliament for Wolverhampton South East
Adrian Bailey, Member of Parliament for West Bromwich West
Tom Watson, Member of Parliament for West Bromwich East
John Spellar, Member of Parliament for Warley
Matt Western, Member of Parliament for Warwick & Leamington
David Jamieson, Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands
Neena Gill CBE, Member of the European Parliament for the West Midlands
Siôn Simon, Member of the European Parliament for the West Midlands
Cllr Richard Chattaway, Leader Warwickshire County Council Labour Group
Cllr Bill Hartnett, Leader Redditch Borough Labour Group
Cllr Tony Kearon, Leader Newcastle-Under- Lyme Borough Labour Group
Cllr Adam Farrell, Leader North Warwickshire Borough Labour Group
Cllr Sue Woodward, Leader Staffordshire County Council and Lichfield District Labour Group
Cllr Simon Peaple, Leader Tamworth Borough l Labour Group
Cllr Mohammed Pervez, Leader Stoke-on-Trent City Council Labour Group
Cllr Claire Edwards, Labour Rugby Borough Labour Group
Dr. Laura Davies, Labour Parliamentary Candidate, Shrewsbury & Atcham
Deb Bannigan, Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Rugby
Gill Ogilvie, Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Walsall North
Zoe Mayou, Labour Party Parliamentary Candidate for Nuneaton
Mark McDonald, Labour Party Parliamentary Candidate for Stoke-on-Trent South
Rebecca Jenkins, Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Redditch
Ian Cooper, Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Halesowen and Rowley Regis
Katrina Gilman, Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Telford
Howard Beckett, Acting West Midlands Regional Secretary, Unite
Ravi Subramanian, West Midlands Regional Secretary, Unison
Joe Morgan, West Midlands Regional Secretary, GMB
Kate Hudson, Midlands Regional Secretary, CWU
Andrew Scattergood, West Midlands Regional Secretary, FBU
Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party