From the Labour Party Manifesto 2017
Councils deliver vital local services to our communities, but their budgets have been slashed by Conservative cuts. This has led to a deterioration of local services, from bin collection to road repair, and the loss of important community assets such as libraries, youth centres and women’s refuges.
Labour believes in devolving power to local communities but that requires the necessary funding follows. You cannot empower local government if you impoverish it.
A Labour government will give local government extra funding next year. We will initiate a review into reforming council tax and business rates and consider new options such as a land value tax, to ensure local government has sustainable funding for the long term.
Labour is the party of devolution and we believe in handing back power to communities. We will devolve powers over economic development, complete with the necessary funding.
It is through the planning system that communities can shape the kinds of high streets, homes and amenities that they want. But under the Conservatives, planning has been under-resourced and disempowered, with democratic planning authorities unable to stand up to big developers. As a result, planning decisions have become too influenced by narrow economic considerations, with developers’ profit taking precedence over community priorities.
A Labour government will properly resource and bolster planning authorities with fuller powers to put people and communities at the heart of planning. We will update compulsory purchase powers to make them more effective as a tool to drive regeneration and unlock planned development.
Under the Conservatives, nearly £400 million has been cut from youth services and over 600 youth centres have closed. Labour will end the cuts to youth services.
We will continue to support all training routes for social workers, including initial social work training provided within or accredited by a higher education institution. We will also prevent the private sector and subsidiaries of private companies from running child protection services. We will deliver earlier protection to victims of abuse by strengthening mandatory reporting, and guaranteeing allegations will be reported and action taken to make children safe.
And we will refocus social care to work with families in local communities to prevent children becoming at risk of going into care.
The government is currently failing to develop a strategy for the wholesale improvement of the care system that delivers for all, not just those children being considered for adoption. We will promote the care and educational achievement of our most vulnerable children and increase support for children in kinship and foster care, and their families. It is important that other forms of care, such as kinship care and fostering, are not marginalised, as this will not result in the step-change we need to see in outcomes for looked after children. Labour will support further regulation of commercial fostering agencies, as well as commissioning a review on establishing a national fostering service.
We will extend Staying Put arrangements to support all children and young people in residential and other forms of care until they are 21.
We will enshrine the European Convention on the Rights of the Child into domestic law
Labour will fund child burial fees for bereaved parents, ensuring that they are scrapped in all council areas. We recognise that some councils have already made this humane move.
Libraries are vital social assets, valued by communities across the country. We will ensure libraries are preserved for future generations and updated with wi-fi and computers to meet modern needs. We will reintroduce library standards so that government can assess and guide councils in delivering the best possible service.
Labour will end the closure of Crown Post Office branches, which play a major role in serving their communities. We will also set up a commission to establish a Post Bank, owned by the Post Office and providing a full range of banking services in every community.
Labour will give communities more power to shape their town centres, by strengthening powers to protect post offices, community pharmacies, high street banks, sports clubs, pubs and independent shops, and promote measures to decrease high-street vacancies.
We will set up a national review of local pubs to examine the causes for their large-scale demise, as well as establishing a joint taskforce that will consider future sustainability.
We will reduce the maximum stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals from £100 to £2. Labour will also legislate to increase the delay between spins to reduce the addictive nature of the games.
We will give members of the Local Government Pension Scheme full trustee status to help control investments, and reduce fees and charges.
This Conservative government has taken rural communities for granted, with chronic underinvestment in transport, broadband and public services, including the closure of local schools, post offices and libraries. Rural infrastructure and industry has been neglected. Labour will invest in broadband, housing and transport to create jobs and ensure that the nation’s prosperity is felt beyond our large towns and cities.
Labour’s national investment plans include coastal protections, better food management and the broadband and 4G extensions that will underpin the future success of rural small businesses. Rural councils deliver public services differently, and this needs to be reflected in funding allocation mechanisms. We will consider these differences in our re-evaluation of the business rate schemes.
We will introduce a ‘rural-proofing’ process so that all our laws, policies and programmes consider their impact on rural communities.