England & Wales

Labour manifesto: local government key points

The Labour manifesto key points for local government:

  • Total Place to be basis of ‘radical change to local public services’ with prevention and early intervention emphasis
  • Commitment to reduce ring fencing and targets
  • New powers for social and affordable housing, climate change, and connected to the proposed National Care Service
  • City regions to be promoted, along with referenda on elected Mayors
  • On council tax: capping to continue, no revaluation, and an ‘independent review’ (i.e. no reform for the next parliament)

Here is the key extract from the manifesto:

The new politics also means radical change to local public services. Our goal is for much greater local flexibility and responsiveness, so that services are shaped around the personal needs of citizens, not the silos of government departments.

Greater accountability – with public services built around users, scrutinised by democratically elected local councils, and with clear rights of redress for citizens – will strengthen support for collectively provided services, while driving efficiency and effectiveness in expenditure. Local government and its partners in public services are already pooling budgets across localities. Our radical Total Place agenda will take this further, giving local areas additional freedom to achieve better services and more savings, cutting bureaucracy and management costs, while placing a greater on early intervention. Ring-fenced budgets, central targets and indicators will be cut back. Local government is at the forefront of tackling the major challenges our society faces, from climate change to ageing.

Increasingly, councils are the motors of economic growth and regeneration, particularly in our great cities. We will give local government new powers to lead in the provision and financing of social and affordable housing, tackle climate change and work with the NHS in our new National Care Service.
These reforms provide the foundations for fundamental change. In contrast to ‘no frills’ councils that charge twice for all but the most basic services, we believe that local government must further empower residents to hold it to account and deliver better, more personalized services. Alongside enhanced scrutiny powers for councillors, we are introducing petitioning powers for local residents to demand action, and extending neighbourhood agreements where citizens set out the standards of services they expect locally.

We will also extend the powers available to our major cityregions, building upon the pioneering arrangements in Greater Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham. Cityregions will be able to gain additional powers to improve transport, skills and economic development and acquire greater borrowing flexibility. Where new city-region authorities are created, we will give residents the opportunity to trigger a referendum for directly electing a Mayor, with Londonstyle powers. More towns should be encouraged to apply for city status and have the chance to acquire it in future competitions.

We have increased funding for local government by 45 per cent in real terms since 1997. Through tough capping powers and efficiencies, this year we have seen the lowest Council Tax rises on record and we expect them to stay low. Excessive rises will be capped. We will not hold a Council Tax revaluation in the next Parliament and we will establish a cross-party commission to review the future of local government finance to ensure it is meeting our goals of accountability, equity and efficiency across the country.