The Government have consulted on changes to the local authority funding formula and have heard from over 300 bodies. We are in the process of digesting those responses and will of course listen carefully to what the sector has said.
I am somewhat astonished that the Secretary of State and the Minister can stand at the Dispatch Box and keep a straight face while downplaying local government cuts. My local authority, Bradford Council, has been decimated by nine years of Tory austerity, which has stripped vital services of funding and dragged hundreds of our children into poverty. Does the Minister really think that cutting funding further and devasting our communities is an example of fair funding?
As I have already said, funding in aggregate for local authorities has gone up, but it is worth bearing in mind too that funding for the hon. Gentleman’s local authority is up this year. I have noticed also that its spending power per household is higher than the average for metropolitan districts. Indeed, in Bradford’s latest accounts it boasts of the area having
“Better skills, more good jobs and a growing economy”.
This Government are backing local councils to deliver for their local communities and will continue to do so.
When will the Government review the empty homes premium, a hypothecated tax that is unfairly distributed between deprived precepting boroughs and shires? Hyndburn is about the 24th most deprived area in the country and collects about £600,000, the majority of which is given to wider Lancashire to spend, not the deprived area. This is totally unfair. Does the Minister recognise it as unfair and will he do anything about it?
I am happy to talk to the hon. Gentleman about his specific concern, but in general it is for local authorities themselves to decide how to implement the empty homes premium. They are accountable to their electors, and this is not something that central Government have any execution over.