Putting local people back in charge

Why vote Labour books pileThe vote by the people of Scotland to stay within the UK has underlined why we are better together and why we need to give careful consideration to how we make sure everyone is able to express their voice for change.

I believe that we need further devolution of power within England, we need reform at Westminster, and we need to look seriously at codifying the constitution.

Nothing highlights this more for people locally and across the North West than the unfair cuts imposed by this Tory-led government.

Between 2010/11 and 2015/16 we will have faced a reduction of £807.23 in spending power per household, while councils in some of the wealthiest areas in the country – like Surrey Heath and Wokingham – will actually see an increase in their spending power per household over this period.

That is despite Liverpool topping the league table of multiple deprivation. We have the greatest need but one of the highest level of cuts in the country. It is a disgrace.

This is not special pleading. The Audit Commission watchdog said last year: ‘Councils in the most deprived areas have seen substantially greater reductions in government funding as a share of revenue expenditure than councils in less deprived areas.’

The 10 most deprived local authorities in England will lose 16 times the amount in spending power per household compared to the 10 least deprived local authorities between 2010/11 and 2015/16.

A Labour government will put fairness back at the heart of local government and its finances. We will push resources and power out from Whitehall and into the regions and communities of our country.

The people must be heard.

That is why Labour is planning a process to begin before the next election in which every region in the country is engaged in a dialogue about how power needs to be dispersed, including in England.

The people, not just the politicians, need to discuss how this will happen.

That process will culminate next year with a Constitutional Convention to discuss how we are governed. It will look at new ideas for representation including reforms at Westminster and the case for a Senate of the Nations and Regions. This is a Convention for the United Kingdom. It is not a Convention to divide or drive our country apart once more.