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Local Authority Budgets

Volume 660: debated on Tuesday 21 May 2019

3. What discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the fiscal effect of the no recourse to public funds condition on local authority budgets. (911003)

I have regular discussions with the Home Secretary and the Local Government Secretary about their budgets and how they are best managed.

Will the Minister at least acknowledge that there is a problem? London boroughs are spending about £50 million a year—which they have to spend, but usually under the Children Act 1989—on families in extremis with no recourse to public funds. Will she acknowledge that that is the case and look at how local authorities are funded?

The hon. Gentleman will be well aware that the spending review is coming up. If there is a specific issue with London local authorities or other local authorities, I would expect that issue to be raised by the Local Government Secretary, and I encourage the hon. Gentleman to meet him to discuss the issue.

One specific issue in relation to the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham is the reopening of Hammersmith bridge. It is about time that the council got on with repairing and reopening the bridge. The council has a very good financial settlement. Will the Chief Secretary join me in knocking heads together between the council and Sadiq Khan’s Transport for London to get the bridge open?

I welcome my right hon. Friend’s efforts to build bridges across London and to improve London’s infrastructure. The London mayoral elections are coming up, and I suggest that people vote for somebody who is going to make change happen much quicker.

Will the Minister commit to ensuring that survivors of domestic abuse with insecure immigration status have safe and confidential reporting systems, without fear of being returned to their country of origin?

The question is actually about the fiscal effects of the no recourse to public funds condition. I think I know what the hon. Lady is driving at, but I hope that other people are as aware of the connection as I am.

I have to agree, Mr Speaker; I am slightly struggling with the link between fiscal policy and the hon. Lady’s question. However, she might be interested to know that in the spending review we are specifically looking at how we can help women suffering domestic violence and how we can take the matter into account when deciding the future of our public spending.

It was great to see the Minister on the Isle of Wight the week before last, although I am sad to say that there are not too many double entendres on her social media. She will be aware that I have written her a letter, asking her to ensure that the Isle of Wight becomes a pilot scheme in order for us to look at how we can better integrate Government services in the One Public Estate programme.

It was certainly a weekend to remember on the Isle of Wight. It was my first ever visit to that great place, and I was impressed. The Isle of Wight provides a good opportunity to look at how we can do things differently, including how we can integrate services to cut down on bureaucracy and put more money on the frontline.

I am sure that the people of the Isle of Wight were most gratified that the right hon. Lady was among their number, even if only for a relatively short period.