Labour accuses Gove of ignoring ‘perfect storm’ threat to local services

Labour accuses Gove of ignoring ‘perfect storm’ threat to local services
Local authorities warn of £3.6bn black hole due to soaring costs

Labour’s 丽莎·南迪 will accuse levelling up secretary [object Window] of behaving like “a Grant Shapps tribute act” as she warns the government is putting its head in the sand over the crisis facing essential public services.

Ms Nandy will on Wednesday warn that there is “a perfect storm looming on the horizon” as local councils struggle to cope with the cost pressures imposed by high inflation.

Her comments come after the Local Government Association warned of cuts to services such as bin collections, pothole repairs and adult care as soaring energy prices and inflation drain £3.6bn from annual budgets over the next few years.

Labour has accused transport secretary Mr Shapps of acting as a spectator in the recent rail strikes, after he refused to get involved in negotiations between employers and unions.

Now Ms Nandy is urging Mr Gove to “get a grip” on inflation pressures by holding urgent talks with councils to head off disruption to crucial services.

Speaking to the LGA conference in Harrogate on Wednesday, the shadow levelling up secretary will say: “We need an active government that doesn’t sit on its hands but seeks out unions and employers to square this circle together. We have just seen our railways grind to a halt while the transport secretary refused to lift a finger.

“So I say to Michael Gove – the country doesn’t need a Grant Shapps tribute act.

“Convene a meeting, without delay, with the explicit aim of reducing pressure on councils so they can maintain services and support the staff who are the beating heart that sustains them.”

Ms Nandy will warn that all councils and their workers face a “new crisis” which threatens services communities rely upon.

She will call for support for “the local government cleaners, home care workers, refuse collectors and teaching assistants, the people who kept this country going during the pandemic at great personal cost and who now can’t feed their own families on the money they earn even as they care for ours”.

And she will urge Whitehall to “ease the pressure” on town halls by acting as a partner to local authorities.

Labour said Ms Nandy will lay out plans to give more powers to communities in order to “smash up a century of centralisation” and “restore power to people who will use it to rebuild from the ground up”.