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Local Government Expenditure

Volume 532: debated on Monday 5 September 2011

The most important thing that the Government are doing is to return power to local authorities, because they are the people who are best placed to manage their resources in a way that meets local priorities, but specifically we are also supporting a raft of initiatives, such as the local government procurement programme.

Recently, I met a local business, Colan Ltd, which was concerned about the way that local authorities procure goods and services. My constituent stated that local authorities have conflicting policies that are costing small companies such as his and in some cases are wasting public money. Will the Minister detail what work is being done to put in place more joined-up procurement across local authorities to support small businesses and ensure better use of public money?

My hon. Friend makes a fair point. The estimate is that some 20% could be saved on the £50 billion that local authorities spend on third parties, which is about £452 per family a year. To that end, the Government are working with the Local Government Group on behalf of the sector to identify short and longer term savings through the local productivity programme.

On spending efficiency, my local housing association tells me that a lone parent with a spare room might be moved from housing association accommodation into private rented accommodation at a cost of £40 more under the new housing allowance. Is that an example of Government ideology or just of stupidity?

I suspect that it is an example of inaccurate point scoring by the hon. Gentleman. We propose to give local authorities greater flexibility to meet the pressures that vary from place to place, rather than having a “one size fits all” straitjacket.