Skip to main content

Local Government Finance

Volume 558: debated on Monday 4 February 2013

I published a document called “50 Ways to Save” with, as the title suggests, no fewer than 50 great ideas for sensible savings that councils can adopt. Our fair funding deal and council tax freeze will give all councils time to put these ideas into practice.

I thank my right hon. Friend for visiting God’s own county of Cheshire over the weekend. Will he share with the House what guidance his Department is giving to local authorities such as Cheshire West and Chester and Halton to help to identify wasteful spending?

It was indeed a pleasure to visit Cheshire over the weekend and see so many active Conservatives. We have set an example. My own Department’s procurement spend has come down by 54% and that of the Government’s procurement card has decreased by 87%, while spending on technology has dropped by 69%. We recognise that it is not our money, but the public’s money. Unlike the Labour spendthrifts, we have been prepared to deal with it face on.

The cross-party Local Government Association estimates that, over a five-year period, it costs local authorities more than £200 million to publish statutory notices in local papers as the Government force them to do, instead of online, which would be more convenient for local people to access. Why will the Secretary of State not allow local authorities to make that sensible saving?

This is something that we are actively considering, but we need to bear in mind the importance to the local economy of local newspapers. We have made clear to local editors that the days of those statutory notices appearing in newspapers are numbered.