On 7 February, Kevan spoke in the Local Government Finance debate.
Each year, levels of central government grant, and the distribution of business rate revenue, for local authorities in England are decided via the annual Local Government Finance Settlement.
Opposing the Government’s settlement, Kevan said:
“Since 2010, Durham County Council has had its expenditure cut by £224 million […] the root cause of this is the austerity during the last seven years.
“This year alone, Durham County Council faces pay inflation of £4.8 million and general inflation of £3.2 million. The impact of the national living wage increase of 4.4% means another £3 million. There is a £3 million cost relating to the demographics of elderly people, and an additional £5 million due to pressures on children’s services, which has been mentioned. That means that, in 2018-19, Durham County Council will have to make further savings of £15.3 million.”
Kevan went on to question how funding for local authorities had been formulated:
“Much reference has been made to the fairer funding formula, but I think it should get done under the Trade Descriptions Act, because the Government are doing what they have been doing for the last seven years.
“If we look at core spending power, the average increase for county councils for 2018-19 is 2.1%; for County Durham, it is 1.4%.
“What we have is more of the same: a Conservative Government rewarding Conservative areas and dressing that up as a funding formula, when it is actually a pork barrel. Unless we address the situation fairly and prioritise need, this scandal in local government—and it is a scandal—will continue.”
To read Kevan’s speech in full in Hansard click on the link below: