Keir Starmer slams Tory cuts in debate on local council funding

Sunak tried to blame Labour for councils going bust

Keir STarmer and Rishi Sunak at the BBC debate

The Labour leader Keir Starmer hit out at Tory cuts tonight in the BBC’s head to head leader’s debate. During the debate, Starmer criticised Rishi Sunak’s party for more than a decade of cuts to local councils and the impact this has had on public services.

Responding to a question about how local councils can be rescued from financial hardship, Starmer said: “I’m very concerned about the situation because I think anybody looking at a council which has run out of money is concerned about the basic services, whether it’s libraries or other support that councils have to put in place. This is a position for councils of all political stripes – there are Conservative run councils that have struggled for money and gone bankrupt as well because of the lack of adequate and proper structured funding from the government.”

Later in the discussion, Sunak suggested that the councils that have faced effective bankruptcy – like Birmingham City Council – had done so because they were run by the Labour Party. In response, Starmer was clear that the blame for the crisis in local government finance lies squarely with central government. He accused the prime minister of ‘gloating’ that local councils were in financial hardship and faced with having to cut essential services.

He said: “Conservative councils in exactly the same problem. What do you say about that? I have to say, a prime minister gloating about the fact that councils are struggling […] He’s responsible and he’s gloating.”

Local councils have had their funding from central government cut by almost 50% since the Tories came to power in 2010.

Chris Jarvis is head of strategy and development at Left Foot Forward

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