“Ensure austerity can never happen again,” 120 local leaders tell Corbyn

Sienna Rodgers

120 Labour mayors and council leaders have written to Jeremy Corbyn today asking for local government to be prioritised in the new party manifesto.

The local government leaders are urging Labour to promise not only that it would end austerity but also that it would put in place measures to “ensure it can never happen again”.

Their letter was sent just ahead of Labour’s ‘Clause V’ meeting, which will be attended by national executive committee members, shadow cabinet members and senior trade union representatives.

Taking place on Saturday, the crunch meeting is expected to scrutinise and sign off the draft manifesto text before it is released likely early next week.

Update, 4.30pm: Local government spokesperson Andrew Gwynne has replied to the letter on Corbyn’s behalf. Gwynne has promised to reverse cuts, as well as “develop a fully funded social care model”, offer “emergency funding” to councils most effected by austerity, introduce a ‘Barnett Formula for the North’, devolve housing and other powers. The full text is below.

Below is the full text of the letter from local government leaders.

Dear Jeremy, 

We are writing in response to your call for ideas to ensure the next Labour government can genuinely rebuild and transform our country and our society. As Labour councillors and mayors we will be giving everything we can to elect a Labour government because this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to permanently shift power out of Westminster and into the hands of local people. 

We are writing to you ahead of Labour’s ‘Clause V’ manifesto meeting to ask that our manifesto reflects the vital importance of local government to delivering the real change that it will promise. As Labour councillors and mayors we are closer to the people than any other part of our movement, and as Labour’s leaders in local government we have practical experience of running public services and delivering for our communities. Solutions to most the biggest challenges of domestic policy – building the houses we need, providing decent care for our ageing population, and tackling the climate change crisis – all run through local government. Labour will only be able to deliver the change our country needs with the help of local councils and metro mayors. 

But since 2010 councils have been systematically stripped of the funding and powers we require just to run the basic services we all rely on. We stand ready to work with the next Labour government to deliver radical and people-focused policies – but if Labour is to truly put power in the hands of local people, it is absolutely vital that our manifesto commits to restoring the funding councils need, to forging a new compact with local government based on mutual respect, and to devolving power and responsibility to our villages, towns, cities, and regions. 

Ending austerity in local government 

Local government has suffered the deepest cuts of any part of government since 2010 – councils have lost 60p out of every £1 in funding that the last Labour government gave to councils (£16bn). Labour’s manifesto must commit to truly ending austerity in local government by committing to restore this funding over the course of the next parliament. 

One of the next Labour government’s first tasks will be to confirm the Local Government Funding settlement for 2020/21, which has been delayed by the general election. It is vital that our manifesto commits to using this settlement to make an emergency investment into three key crisis areas: children’s services, adult social care, and homelessness. 

Ending austerity is vital, but Labour must also ensure it can never happen again. Our broken political system enabled the Tories to make savage cuts to local public services and to asset strip local communities for over a decade without the consent of local people. The manifesto must include a pledge to introduce a review of Local Government Finance, co-produced with local government, in order to establish a fairer and more progressive system of property taxes, and to establish a mechanism to ensure that revenue is appropriately redistributed according to local need. Labour should legislate to guarantee councils can access sustainable funding, with multi-year settlements allowing them to plan for the future and move spending towards early intervention services that will reduce demand in the future. 

A new partnership with local government 

Councils are responsible for the public services that matter to everyone. 44% of the commitments in the 2017 manifesto fell either directly or indirectly on English local government to deliver, and our new manifesto will place a similar burden on councils to deliver. But councils are not a delivery arm of national government. We are democratic, transparent, and accountable, and closer to their communities than any civil servant or minister in London could ever be. 

Labour councillors share your vision of making our country a fairer and more hopeful place, and will work hard to make it a reality. If the next Labour government is to meet the expectations it has created, it will need to forge common purpose with all local councils and develop a new relationship with councils based on mutual respect and partnership. The manifesto must include a commitment to introduce a Local Government Commission, representing a new compact between national, regional, and local government. The Commission should be made up of councillors from every region, every authority type, and every major political party, and be given a formal role in the domestic policy-making process, to make better, more effective legislation and ensure that policies governing local services can be implemented at the frontline of delivery. 

Devolving the power to tackle our biggest common challenges 

Solutions to the biggest challenges of domestic policy – building the houses we need, providing decent care for our ageing population, and tackling the grave threat of climate change – all run through local government. Councils carry out extraordinary work already in these areas but they have been held back by a lack of powers and resources. Taking decisions over how to run local services closer to where people live is key to improving them and saving money. If the next Labour government follows through with the promise to devolve powers and resources to local communities, they will be rewarded with councils delivering more quickly, with deeper impact, and in a more cost-effective way than any Whitehall initiative could ever achieve. 

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland already have a significant say over everything from health services to skills and transport, yet many of England’s communities are still desperate for the same freedoms. A Devolution Bill, co-produced through the Local Government Commission, should lay the framework for a new constitutional settlement between national, regional, and local government based on mutual respect, and underpinned by a compact that respects the independence, autonomy, and equality of regional and local government and puts local people and communities at the heart of decision making. 

We believe these three strategic commitments – to restore the funding councils need, to forge a new compact with local government based on mutual respect, and to devolve power to the local level – are genuinely crucial to the next Labour government’s ability to deliver real change, but there are also a range of other important policy priorities for councils which we have summarised in the attached document. 

This is truly a once-in-a-generation election, and the manifesto is our opportunity to set out how a radical Labour government will empower councils and regions, and permanently shift power out of Westminster and into the hands of local people. We would urge you to ensure this opportunity isn’t missed. As Labour councillors and mayors we are proud to be campaigning hard to ensure a Labour victory, and stand ready to help you to transform our country for the better. 

Yours sincerely, 

Cllr Nick Forbes, Leader of the LGA Labour Group Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Deputy Leader of the LGA Labour Group Cllr Michael Payne, Deputy Leader of the LGA Labour Group Mayor Andy Burnham, Metro Mayor, Greater Manchester City Region Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of the Council, Bradford Metropolitan District Council Councillor Richard Watts, Leader of the Council, Islington Council Councillor Georgia Gould, Leader of the Council, Camden Council Mayor Dan Jarvis, Mayor, South Yorkshire City Region Councillor Ian Ward, Leader of the Council, Birmingham City Council Mayor Marvin Rees, Executive Mayor, Bristol City Council Councillor Clare Coghill, Leader of the Council, Waltham Forest Mayor Joe Anderson, Executive Mayor, Liverpool City Council Councillor Judith Blake, Leader of the Council, Leeds City Council Sir Richard Leese, Leader of the Council, Manchester City Council Councillor Tom Beattie, Leader of the Council, Corby Borough Council Councillor Muhammed Butt, Leader of the Council, Brent Council Sir Stephen Houghton, Leader of the Council, Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council Mayor John Biggs, Executive Mayor, Tower Hamlets Borough Council Councillor Simon Blackburn, Leader of the Council, Blackpool Council Mayor Norma Redfearn, Executive Mayor, North Tyneside Council Councillor Chris Emmas-Williams, Leader of the Council, Amber Valley Councillor Mohammed Khan, Leader of the Council, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council Mayor Damien Egan, Executive Mayor, Lewisham Council Councillor Lewis Herbert, Leader of the Council, Cambridge City Council Councillor Huw David, Leader of the Council, Bridgend County Borough Council Mayor Andy Abrahams, Executive Mayor, Mansfield Council Councillor George Adamson, Leader of the Council, Cannock Chase District Council Mayor Ros Jones, Executive Mayor, Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz, Executive Mayor, Newham Council Councillor Matthew Brown, Leader of the Council, Preston City Council Mayor Paul Dennett, Executive Mayor, Salford Council Councillor Sam Corcoran, Leader of the Council, Cheshire East Council Councillor David Jones, Leader of the Council, Bury Metropolitan Borough Council Councillor Simon Henig, Leader of the Council, Durham County Council Councillor Nesil Caliskan, Leader of the Council, Enfield Council Mayor Philip Glanville, Executive Mayor, Hackney Council Councillor Louise Gittins, Leader of the Council, Cheshire West and Chester Council Councillor Alistair Bradley, Leader of the Council, Chorley District Council Councillor Danny Thorpe, Leader of the Council, Greenwich Council Councillor Rob Polhill, Leader of the Council, Halton Borough Council Councillor Joseph Ejiofor, Leader of the Council, Haringey Council Councillor Graham Henson, Leader of the Council, Harrow Council Councillor Sean Fielding, Leader of the Council, Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council Councillor Tudor Evans, Leader of the Council, Plymouth City Council Councillor Steve Curran, Leader of the Council, Hounslow Council Councillor David Ellesmere, Leader of the Council, Ipswich Borough Council Councillor Stephen Brady, Leader of the Council, Kingston upon Hull City Council Councillor Shabir Pandor, Leader of the Council, Kirklees Council Councillor Jack Hopkins, Leader of the Council, Lambeth Council Councillor Tricia Gilby, Leader of the Council, Chesterfield Borough Council Councillor Peter Lamb, Leader of the Council, Crawley Borough Council Councillor Tony Newman, Leader of the Council, Croydon Council Councillor Julian Bell, Leader of the Council, Ealing Council Councillor Phil Bialyk, Leader of the Council, Exeter City Council Councillor John Clarke, Leader of the Council, Gedling Borough Council Councillor Stephen Alambritis, Leader of the Council, Merton Council Councillor Martin Stears-Handscomb, Leader of the Council, North Hertfordshire District Council Councillor Alyson Barnes, Leader of the Council, Rossendale Borough Council Councillor Chris Read, Leader of the Council, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council Councillor Julie Dore, Leader of the Council, Sheffield City Council Councillor James Swindlehurst, Leader of the Council, Slough Borough Council Councillor Iain Malcolm, Leader of the Council, South Tyneside Metropolitan Borough Council Councillor Chris Hammond, Leader of the Council, Southampton City Council Councillor Peter John, Leader of the Council, Southwark Council Councillor Sharon Taylor, Leader of the Council, Stevenage District Council Councillor Graeme Miller, Leader of the Council, Sunderland City Council Councillor Shaun Davies, Leader of the Council, Telford & Wrekin Council Councillor Russ Bowden, Leader of the Council, Warrington Borough Council Councillor Ian Moran, Leader of the Council, West Lancashire Borough Council Councillor Darren Rodwell, Leader of the Council, Barking & Dagenham Councillor Gavin Callaghan, Leader of the Council, Basildon Borough Council Councillor Simon Greaves, Leader of the Council, Bassetlaw District Council Councillor Tim Swift, Leader of the Council, Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council Councillor George Duggins, Leader of the Council, Coventry City Council Councillor Martin Gannon, Leader of the Council, Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council Councillor Steve Cowan, Leader of the Council, Hammersmith & Fulham Council Councillor Mark Ingall, Leader of the Council, Harlow Council Councillor Anthony McKeown, Leader of the Council, High Peak Councillor Erica Lewis, Leader of the Council, Lancaster City Council Councillor Peter Marland, Leader of the Council, Milton Keynes Council Councillor Debbie Wilcox, Leader of the Council, Newport City Council Councillor Alan Waters, Leader of the Council, Norwich City Council Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of the Council, Oxford City Council Councillor Jason Brock, Leader of the Council, Reading Borough Council Councillor Bob Cook, Leader of the Council, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council Councllor Doina Cornell, Leader of the Council, Stroud District Council Councillor Robert Stewart, Leader of the Council, Swansea Council Councillor Rick Everitt, Leader of the Council, Thanet District Council Councillor Andrew Western, Leader of the Council, Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council Councillor David Molyneux, Leader of the Council, Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council Councillor Ian Brookfield, Leader of the Council, Wolverhampton Council Councillor Susan Oliver, Leader of the Labour Group, Bedford Borough Council Councillor Linda Thomas, Leader of the Labour Group, Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council Councillor Gareth Barrett, Leader of the Labour Group, Brentwood Borough Council Councillor Mark Townsend, Leader of the Labour Group, Burnley Borough Council Councillor Alan Baldock, Leader of the Labour Group, Canterbury City Council Councillor Jewel Miah, Leader of the Labour Group, Charnwood Borough Council Councillor Tina Bourne, Leader of the Labour Group, Colchester Borough Council Councillor Stephen Harker, Leader of the Labour Group, Darlington Borough Council Councillor Tony Howard, Leader of the Labour Group, East Lindsey Councillor Trevor Webb, Leader of the Labour Group, East Sussex County Council Councillor Kate Chinn, Leader of the Labour Group, Epsom & Ewell Borough Council Councillor Ivan Henderson, Leader of the Labour Group, Essex County Council Councillor Connor McConville, Leader of the Labour Group, Folkestone and Hythe Councillor Di Martin, Leader of the Labour Group, Forest of Dean District Council Councillor Patrick Kadewere, Leader of the Labour Group, Huntingdonshire Councillor Michael Scrimshaw, Leader of the Labour Group, Kettering Borough Council Councillor Steve Norman, Leader of the Labour Group, Lichfield District Council Councillor Malcolm McKay, Leader of the Labour Group, Maidstone Borough Council Councillor Vince Maple, Leader of the Labour Group, Medway Council Councillor Adam Farrell, Leader of the Labour Group, North Warwickshire Borough Council Councillor Alan Rhodes, Leader of the Labour Group, Nottinghamshire County Council Councillor Shaz Nawaz, Leader of the Labour Group, Peterborough City Council Councillor Keith Dibble, Leader of the Labour Group, Rushmoor Borough Council Councillor Bob Packham, Leader of the Labour Group, Selby District Council Councillor Leigh Redman, Leader of the Labour Group, Somerset County Council Councillor Mocky Khan, Leader of the Labour Group, South Oxfordshire Councillor Susan Woodward, Leader of the Labour Group, Staffordshire County Council Councillor Mohammed Pervez, Leader of the Labour Group, Stoke-on-Trent City Council Councillor Sarah Adams, Leader of the Labour Group, Suffolk County Council Councillor Janet Pothecary, Leader of the Labour Group, Thurrock Council Councillor Dianne Hill, Leader of the Labour Group, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council Councillor Simon Hogg, Leader of the Labour Group, Wandsworth Borough Council Councillor Adam Hug, Leader of the Labour Group, Westminster Council Councillor Andy Croy, Leader of the Labour Group, Wokingham Councillor Colin Glover, Leader of the Labour Group, Carlisle City Council

Below is the full text of Andrew Gwynne’s response.

Dear all,

Thank you for the letter you sent to Jeremy, he has asked me to reply on his behalf.

I firstly want to repeat what I said in my recent email to all Labour councillors.

As we head into a general election, we want to extend our thanks for all your hard work and for the support you have given to my team over the past two and a half years since I became shadow Communities secretary.

We know that you know the effect of a decade of Tory failure. Cuts to councils have stripped services to the bone. Under immense pressure though, you have fought the Tories and Lib Dems and stood up for your communities.

For many people politics is too distant from them – too many of the decisions that impact on their lives are made in Whitehall and do not reflect local needs and priorities. Under the Tories responsibility for a greater number of costly services has been devolved to local authorities. However, the funding from central government to deliver the kind of projects communities require has been sorely lacking. Tory cuts are hitting the most deprived areas hardest. Nine of the top 10 of the most deprived councils in England have seen cuts of almost three times the national average. This is having a devastating impact on local public services. By 2025 local government will face a further funding gap of £8 billion just to maintain local services at their current level.

It’s time for real change. Labour will give local government the funding it needs to deliver the services local communities require and expect. We will develop a fully funded social care model and will commit to emergency funding to support local councils which have faced drastic cuts to their budgets thanks to this Tory Government. Labour will make council tax fairer and introduce a ‘Barnett Formula for the North’ to deal with regional funding disparities, so that the economic recovery benefits everyone all over the country.

Labour’s plan will help tackle the housing crisis in local areas by devolving powers and funding to get Britain building. We will give local areas greater control over transport so councils can ensure that they meet the needs of their communities.  We will also give local communities greater control over their high streets, with powers to decide whether to limit the number of gambling establishments, payday lenders and fast food outlets.

I want to end as I began. You are an inspiration to our movement. A movement which over the next five weeks will draw on your example and showcase the best of what Labour can deliver. More investment in councils, schools and hospitals. Stronger new powers to fix our broken housing market. More police on our streets to tackle knife and other forms of crime. And yes a commitment to put Brexit behind us with a new better Labour deal that’s put to the people to let them decide so can move on in the country’s best interest rather than rushing a decision what will effect generations to come.

Good luck to those of you standing. Thank you to all of you for all the campaigning you have and will do. Let’s deliver a Labour government for the many and not the few.



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