9 Kemi Badenoch debates involving the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities

Thu 1st Nov 2018
Budget Resolutions
Commons Chamber

1st reading: House of Commons
Mon 30th Apr 2018
Windrush
Commons Chamber
(Urgent Question)
Tue 27th Feb 2018
Department for Transport
Commons Chamber

1st reading: House of Commons

Oral Answers to Questions

Kemi Badenoch Excerpts
Monday 27th June 2022

(1 year, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Kate Hollern Portrait Kate Hollern (Blackburn) (Lab)
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3. If he will make an assessment of the potential merits of requiring Government Departments to report annually on the impact of spatial disparities across the UK on targeted outcomes.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Local Government, Faith and Communities (Kemi Badenoch)
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The Government will publish an annual report on progress towards delivering the 12 levelling-up missions designed to address the UK’s spatial disparities. The obligation to publish the report will be established in statute, creating a regular point for Parliament and the public to scrutinise progress towards levelling up.

Kate Hollern Portrait Kate Hollern
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The levelling-up missions fall far short of what we really need to make progress in this country. They are nothing more than the Government marking their own homework. Communities desperately need a cross-Government approach that focuses on the different outcomes for people and places in health, education and so many other areas. Will the Minister consider working with colleagues to set clearer lines of accountability on levelling up across Government Departments so that they can be assessed on their effectiveness and on real outcomes for people?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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The hon. Lady will find that the levelling-up White Paper and the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill do the very things she is asking. On marking our own homework, she misunderstands the point. The fact is that these missions should not be set in stone. As the economy adapts, so might the missions to reflect the changing environment and the lessons learned from past interventions. Some targets cut across spending review periods, for example, and it would make sense to be able to review them before the next period begins.

Jake Berry Portrait Jake Berry (Rossendale and Darwen) (Con)
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Does my hon. Friend accept that it is hard to deliver the long-term, ambitious levelling-up plans set out in law without a long-term mechanism for funding them? Will she agree to meet me and members of the Northern Research Group, which has called for a levelling-up formula to equalise Government spending across our United Kingdom?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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I am very happy to do so.

Margaret Ferrier Portrait Margaret Ferrier (Rutherglen and Hamilton West) (Ind)
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Resolution Foundation research indicates that the true cost of levelling up is billions higher than accounted for by Ministers, owing to the continued investment in the south-east of England offsetting the productivity boost in other regions. How will Ministers look holistically at socioeconomic inequalities to better understand how to close the gap?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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The Resolution Foundation’s report raises some very interesting findings, and it highlights the urgency of levelling up across the UK and the fact that the cost of living crisis is making levelling up more challenging and necessary. The UK shared prosperity fund will help to unleash the creativity and talent of communities that have been overlooked and undervalued. If the hon. Lady would like to raise anything specific with me, I would be happy to respond in writing.

Jamie Wallis Portrait Dr Jamie Wallis (Bridgend) (Con)
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4. What recent discussions he has had with representatives of local and devolved government in Scotland and Wales on the UK shared prosperity fund.

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Stephanie Peacock Portrait Stephanie Peacock (Barnsley East) (Lab)
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14. What recent assessment he has made of the impartiality of criteria used to award levelling-up funds.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Local Government, Faith and Communities (Kemi Badenoch)
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The levelling-up fund targets money at those places that are most in need, using an index that includes metrics such as productivity, skills, unemployment and commercial vacancy rates. In round 1 of the fund, over half the money allocated went to the 20% most deprived local authorities.

Stephanie Peacock Portrait Stephanie Peacock
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Secretary of State for visiting Barnsley East to meet the Coalfields Regeneration Trust to discuss its regeneration proposals. He will have seen from his visit how, by every measure, Barnsley is deserving of levelling-up funding, so despite our previous two bids being rejected, will he consider Barnsley in the upcoming round?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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The hon. Lady will know that the allocation is a completely transparent process. If she wants to find out more about the help sessions for local authorities, we can provide information on how they can improve their bids.

Tom Hunt Portrait Tom Hunt (Ipswich) (Con)
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It is likely that Ipswich is going to be connected to two levelling-up bids, one from the county council and one from the borough council. Does the Minister agree that investing in sports opportunities for young people, particularly in deprived areas, can be transformative for levelling up, and will she therefore welcome our plans to transform Gainsborough sports and community centre? Will she confirm that the civil servants will work as quickly as possible so that my constituents can see results on the ground, like with the towns fund, where the civil servants are currently reviewing the business cases?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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I agree with both things, and we support all levelling-up bids.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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We now come to shadow Minister Alex Norris.

Alex Norris Portrait Alex Norris (Nottingham North) (Lab/Co-op)
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The recent report from the Public Accounts Committee was a huge blow to the way in which the Government are seeking to level up and it exposed once again the debilitating impact of beauty parades and unclear allocation criteria. If the Secretary of State thinks that was praise, then goodness me! This can be resolved in future by the Government accepting our calls for proper, sustained funding that is targeted at need. Therefore, to make sure that we are never in this situation again, will the Minister commit to accepting amendment 13 to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, which will start this process?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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No, I will not commit to that. While we hold the Public Accounts Committee in high esteem, we reject much of the criticism and we will publish our response to its report in the summer.

Philip Dunne Portrait Philip Dunne (Ludlow) (Con)
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15. What steps his Department is taking to help ensure that the development of homes and commercial buildings does not overload existing water treatment infrastructure.

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Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Local Government, Faith and Communities (Kemi Badenoch)
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Local authorities such as Suffolk County Council are facing major challenges in recruiting social care staff; that is cascading right through the health and social care system and causing major difficulties for hospitals in discharging patients and getting on top of the backlog of operations. I agree with my hon. Friend and want him to know that I have been working on the issue very closely with my counterpart in the Department of Health and Social Care. We have provided £462.5 million to local authorities to support them with those workforce pressures, and there is more that we will continue to do.

Lisa Nandy Portrait Lisa Nandy (Wigan) (Lab)
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We have had a week of travel chaos while the Transport Secretary has sat idly by, and there is another crisis on the horizon: the local government cleaners, social workers and refuse workers who cannot afford to feed their families on the wages they are paid. They need and deserve a pay rise. The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities knows that workers and council leaders struggling with record Tory inflation cannot square the circle alone. Nobody wants rubbish piling up in the streets, nobody wants older people left in their homes, and nobody wants families left to break. Will he commit to making a better fist of this than his hopeless colleague at the Department for Transport? He should do as they ask and come to the table to protect our vital workers, who kept this country going during the pandemic, and the communities they serve so well.

Oral Answers to Questions

Kemi Badenoch Excerpts
Monday 16th May 2022

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Helen Morgan Portrait Helen Morgan (North Shropshire) (LD)
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5. What discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on taking steps to improve access to employment for those without car access in (a) North Shropshire and (b) other rural areas as part of the levelling-up agenda.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Levelling Up Communities (Kemi Badenoch)
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The levelling-up fund announced at the last spending review saw £1.7 billion awarded to 105 successful projects across the UK, including projects to improve access to employment for those without the use of a car in rural areas.

Helen Morgan Portrait Helen Morgan
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Market Drayton and a number of other towns in North Shropshire are seeing cuts to their bus services, with Market Drayton set to lose them all together at weekends. It has received none of the funding that it has applied for to date, including from the Bus Back Better fund. Like many other towns across Britain, its beautiful high street is struggling to recover from the pandemic. For such towns that have been unsuccessful in their bids so far, and where people are struggling to get in and out of them, what is the Government’s plan to level them up?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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The hon. Lady needs to work with her local transport authority—that would be Shropshire Council—to look into resolving those issues. The pandemic had a huge impact on the delivery of local services and the Government provided nearly £1.86 billion in grant funding for bus services in England. Shropshire Council received about £2.17 million of that, so I encourage her to speak to the council to see what it, along with commercial bus operators, can do.

Peter Aldous Portrait Peter Aldous (Waveney) (Con)
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6. What steps his Department is taking to support economic growth across the UK.

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Justin Madders Portrait Justin Madders (Ellesmere Port and Neston) (Lab)
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7. What steps he is taking to deliver long-term funding settlements for the levelling-up agenda.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Levelling Up Communities (Kemi Badenoch)
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We know how important multi-year certainty is to local authorities and we aim to provide it whenever possible. We are making £54.1 billion available to local government in England through this year’s settlement—an increase of up to £3.7 billion on last year. We are also providing an additional £1.6 billion of grant funding per year across the spending review period.

Justin Madders Portrait Justin Madders
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Long-term challenges need long-term solutions. We have had too much of an ad hoc bidding war, which creates winners and losers. A perfect example is my constituency: in the past three years, we have had our bids to the future high streets fund, towns fund, Restoring Your Railway fund, levelling-up fund and Bus Back Better fund rejected. Any one of those could have made a real difference to the constituency, but after each bid, we have been back at square one. Can the Minister not see that to truly level up, we need a strategy, not a lottery?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman’s area has not been successful in bidding for funds, but I remind him that it has received £12.6 million from the shared prosperity fund. The levelling-up bids are competitive, and the strength of the bids is part of what is measured, so I encourage him and his local authorities to continue trying.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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We come to the shadow Minister.

Alex Norris Portrait Alex Norris (Nottingham North) (Lab/Co-op)
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A new study by the Centre for Business Research shows that by the end of next year, more than half the UK’s slowest-growing economies will be in the north of England. So much for the Government’s commitment to levelling up the country! If we want true levelling up, we need proper regional investment. Instead, we have a rolling series of beauty parades: the levelling-up fund, the towns fund, the high streets fund, the buses fund, the brownfield fund and all the others. Do Ministers really believe that levelling up is best served by making communities come cap in hand to Whitehall, where only some can win, and most must lose?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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Competitive funding has its place, and we think that it has been an effective tool for protecting value for taxpayers’ money. The hon. Gentleman knows that, as I said in answer to his colleague the hon. Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston (Justin Madders), that is not the only funding that we are providing. We have increased funding for local government by £3.7 billion.

Alex Norris Portrait Alex Norris
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The hon. Lady knows that the story for local government over the past decade has been a devastating one. Even if an area is successful in the bids that I have talked about, it will still be worse off overall as a result of Government cuts. With this Government, the reality never matches the press release, and we see that once again with the shared prosperity fund: the Tory party promised, in its 2019 manifesto, that the amount in the fund would match the what used to be received, but now we can see that the fund is worth hundreds of millions less. So I ask the Minister what I asked the Secretary of State last month, when I received only a grammar lesson in response: levelling up is a sham, is it not?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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I completely reject the hon. Member’s assertion. It is not true that the shared prosperity fund is less; it is more. The Opposition are looking at different sources of funding to arrive at their inaccurate figures. If he would like us to explain how it works, I would be very happy to provide him with a letter.

Patricia Gibson Portrait Patricia Gibson (North Ayrshire and Arran) (SNP)
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Bloomberg’s devastating forensic analysis of the Government’s progress with their so-called levelling-up agenda has found no overall levelling-up progress in Scotland. On the contrary, the UK Government are levelling down Scotland compared with London, which has had significant levelling-up funding and gains since 2019. Disparities across the UK are widening. To what extent does the Minister agree with Bloomberg’s analysis that the Tories are levelling down Scotland and prioritising the south of England?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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I am afraid that is not a statement that we accept. I looked at the Bloomberg figures, and I noticed that Bloomberg was using a 2019 baseline, when the whole purpose of levelling up is to ensure that we solve the problems identified. I would like the hon. Lady to look at the metrics that we have included in the “Levelling Up the United Kingdom” White Paper, and at the missions in it; it is through those that we will level up across the country.

Mick Whitley Portrait Mick Whitley (Birkenhead) (Lab)
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9. What steps he plans to take to extend right-to-buy schemes to housing associations.

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Mohammad Yasin Portrait Mohammad Yasin (Bedford) (Lab)
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10. What steps he is taking to help reduce financial pressures on local authority budgets.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Levelling Up Communities (Kemi Badenoch)
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As I mentioned before, this year’s local government finance settlement makes available £54.1 billion for councils in England—an increase of £3.7 billion on last year’s settlement—to ensure that councils have the resources that they need to deliver key services. That includes more than £1 billion for councils to meet social care pressures, and a new un-ringfenced 2022-23 services grant worth £822 million.

Mohammad Yasin Portrait Mohammad Yasin
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As a result of the Government’s actions—they cut Bedford Borough Council’s revenue support grant from over £30 million in 2015 to just £6.1 million in 2022-23—local authorities have been forced to raise council tax precepts to meet vital costs. The adult social care burden is ever increasing, and cannot be paid for unless the RSG is increased to a realistic level. Will the Minister tell us when the fair funding review will finally be published?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising this issue. We recognise that adult social care costs are increasing, which is why we have provided additional funding. For the hon. Gentleman’s borough of Bedford, we have provided an additional £2 million for this settlement year. We will continue to look at the pressure that councils are under, but I remind him that this settlement increased budgets significantly. Bedford Borough Council received a core spending power increase of 6.5% this year, worth £9.6 million. That makes available up to £156 million-worth of spending.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister.

Mike Amesbury Portrait Mike Amesbury (Weaver Vale) (Lab)
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Ministers cannot escape the fact that according to the National Audit Office, 50% of central Government grant funding has been cut from the budgets of local authorities up and down the land since 2010. Ministers are living in a parallel universe where less is more. Millions have been taken out of the shared prosperity fund. The consequences are all too plain. We even have Sir Rod Stewart doing DIY, filling in potholes in Essex—a county with which the Minister will be familiar—and a third of libraries are closing. Those are real consequences.

At what stage will the Minister grasp the bull by the horns and provide fair funding for local authorities, based on genuine need? This should not be about competition or jumping through unnecessary hoops; we should be providing first-class public services for all.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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I remind the hon. Gentleman that the reason we have had such difficulties in local government spending is the terrible state of public finances that this Government found when they came into power 10 years ago. It is only because of the hard work that we have done over the last decade to repair the public finances that we have been able to provide additional funding for local government.

Richard Fuller Portrait Richard Fuller (North East Bedfordshire) (Con)
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11. What recent progress he has made in delivering an “infrastructure first” approach for planning and house building.

Oral Answers to Questions

Kemi Badenoch Excerpts
Monday 7th March 2022

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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Paula Barker Portrait Paula Barker (Liverpool, Wavertree) (Lab)
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12. What assessment he has made of the impact of reductions to local authority budgets on the Government’s levelling-up agenda.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Levelling Up Communities (Kemi Badenoch)
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Next year’s local government finance settlement makes available an additional £3.7 billion to councils, including funding for adult social care reform. This is an increase in funding of more than 4.5% in real terms and it will ensure that councils across the country have the resources they need to deliver key services.

Barbara Keeley Portrait Barbara Keeley
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Salford City Council has had its core funding from central Government cut by 53% since 2010-11. The local government finance settlement that the Minister has just mentioned does not reverse that decade of cuts, and nor does it help enough to provide the £7.6 million needed to pay for increases in costs from national insurance, the national minimum wage, employer pensions and inflation. However, the most critical pressure is on adult social care, where the city council faces increased demand and increased costs. How on earth can councils be expected to deliver vital social care services adequately when this Government’s solution is to make councils fund them from regressive taxes such as council tax and a social care levy of up to 14%?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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We recognise that councils have financial pressures and we are doing everything we can to support them. Salford receives up to an additional £19.2 million in core spending power, which is a cash-terms increase of 7.8%. That excludes other funding that we have given to the hon. Lady’s council to assist with the pressures she has raised.

Liz Twist Portrait Liz Twist
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The levelling-up White Paper made no mention of funding for local councils, despite the fact that it is local authorities that deliver the kind of change to local communities that the White Paper claims to be aiming for. Does the Minister think that after 12 years of extraordinary cuts to local authority funding, councils across the country are in a good position to deliver levelling up without any new funding?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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I disagree with the hon. Lady. The levelling-up White Paper did make reference to council funding, and the financial settlement that I referred to earlier mentioned the cash increase. She will know that Gateshead receives 8.1% and that the Northumberland part of her constituency receives 8%. The fact is that we have given additional funding for levelling up. This includes £2.1 million from the community renewal fund and a £358,000 allocation from the welcome back fund. There is money going into her constituency and we are here to support as much as we can.

Paula Barker Portrait Paula Barker
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Local government finance has been ravaged over the last decade under the mantra of austerity. Councils in the north have lost up to 50% of their core funding, and some have lost even more. The Secretary of State has said, “If you leave the free-play market forces entirely to themselves, then what you see is inequality growing, in particular geographical inequality”. Those were fine words, spoken at the convention of the north in my home city. When will the Department drop the spin on local government finance and genuinely improve councils’ core spending powers by factoring in inflation and national insurance increases, for which our cash-strapped local authorities are picking up the tab?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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Labour Members continue to talk about losses in funding, but they forget to remind everyone of how we arrived in this position. It is because of their disgraceful management of the public finances. We have spent the last 10 years repairing the public finances, which is why we have been able to give the real-terms increase that will support all Labour councils.

Siobhan Baillie Portrait Siobhan Baillie (Stroud) (Con)
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Stroud District Council is on the record as saying how generous and supportive the Government were during the pandemic. We established holiday camps and a range of activities that were not there before, we are bidding for £20 million from the levelling-up fund and we are working closely with our GFirst local enterprise partnership, which is keen to know the timeline for the shared prosperity fund. Is the Minister able to give us any more information? This is another round of funding that is available to our local authorities.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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I recognise my hon. Friend’s concerns. All I can tell her is that we will be providing further details very shortly.

Mark Pritchard Portrait Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Secretary of State and all the Ministers and officials in the Department for moving at pace to tackle the growing humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. We have heard from the Government that those with family links and those with sponsorship will get support. Many local authorities are under huge financial pressure, so will the Minister say what further help could be given to local authorities that want to house refugees not only from Ukraine but from Afghanistan? Finally, can she give more detail on the announcement, or non-announcement, of a third track for refugees?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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I cannot answer all my right hon. Friend’s questions, but my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is having discussions with councils on this very issue. As soon as we are able to provide further details, we will do so.

Damien Moore Portrait Damien Moore (Southport) (Con)
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Does my hon. Friend agree that the reorganisation of local authority areas can reduce the financial pressure on councils? Will she meet me to discuss how Southport would benefit from being in a new council area?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
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Yes, it is true that reorganisation can sometimes assist. I would be happy to meet my hon. Friend to discuss this issue.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the shadow Minister, Mike Amesbury.

Mike Amesbury Portrait Mike Amesbury (Weaver Vale) (Lab)
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Members on both sides of the Chamber have said that any levelling up will ultimately be delivered by local authorities improving lives in their communities, but councils have faced and continue to face, despite the spin, serious shortfalls thanks to draconian Government cuts, including a 2% real-terms cut this year. Can the Minister explain how taking away £88 million from Burnley Borough Council in Lancashire over the last 10 years, even after taking into account the levelling-up funding, is fair? How is that levelling up? How will a £102 million shortfall over the next three years for Essex County Council—the Minister’s own county council—level up adult social care? Is it not time for Ministers to cut the spin, cut the claptrap and provide some substance and genuine levelling up for our hard-pressed councils?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I completely reject the hon. Gentleman’s numbers. As I said, we have given a 4.5% increase in the local government finance settlement. We are here to provide support to all local authorities. We are not going to engage in agreeing with the false numbers provided by the Opposition.

Steve Brine Portrait Steve Brine (Winchester) (Con)
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4. What steps his Department is taking to help rough sleepers find accommodation.

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Afzal Khan Portrait Afzal Khan (Manchester, Gorton) (Lab)
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10. What recent discussions he has had with the anti-Muslim hatred working group on the rise in Islamophobic attitudes.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Levelling Up Communities (Kemi Badenoch)
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The anti-Muslim hatred working group has played a valuable role as the Government’s forum for discussing and advising on anti-Muslim hatred and the challenges faced by Britain’s Muslim communities. While the group was paused during the pandemic they continued their important work through a series of webinars, including an event addressing the fears and myths about the covid-19 vaccination programme. The Secretary of State and I will be meeting the leadership of the group in the next few weeks to discuss the current issues facing Muslim communities and the best way for us to support the group’s work.

Afzal Khan Portrait Afzal Khan
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Islamophobia remains in all elements of our society, and that includes our major political parties. The difference is that while the Labour party has taken decisive and swift action, the Government have not delivered on any of their promises. The anti-Muslim hatred working group’s own Qari Asim has been critical of the Government’s failure to take tangible action. Will the Minister now follow in the footsteps of the Labour party and take steps to tackle Islamophobia in the UK, starting with a truly independent investigation into the Conservative party? Will she outline when the UK last submitted a report to the UN’s International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, as required of all signatories to the convention?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The Government do remain committed to stamping out anti-Muslim hatred and all forms of religious prejudice. I have had conversations with the hon. Gentleman and I am due to meet the all-party parliamentary group on British Muslims very shortly. We will outline our next steps in due course but we are actively working on this.

Imran Hussain Portrait Imran Hussain (Bradford East) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I have listened to the Minister, but the tragic reality is that Islamophobia is on the rise and is rife in our society today. If anyone is in any doubt, they should speak to the Muslim communities up and down this country who have to face this evil on a daily basis. How can my constituents have any confidence in a Government who cannot even tackle Islamophobia in their own ranks?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I completely reject the accusation made by the hon. Gentleman—it is completely untrue. We are doing everything we can to tackle not just anti-Muslim hatred but all forms of prejudice in our society. On this issue, we have supported Tell MAMA with just over £4 million between 2016 and 2022 to monitor and combat anti-Muslim hatred. Over the past five years of the places of worship grant scheme we have awarded 241 grants worth approximately £5 million to places of worship. In November 2020 we awarded £1.8 million through the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s faith, race and hate crime grant scheme.

Geraint Davies Portrait Geraint Davies (Swansea West) (Lab/Co-op)
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11. What assessment he has made of the potential effect on levelling up in Wales of rail enhancement investments.

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John Whittingdale Portrait Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con)
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14. What steps he is taking with local authorities to help ensure the accountability of locally elected representatives.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Levelling Up Communities (Kemi Badenoch)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The Localism Act 2011 sets out a robust framework for local authority standards and accountability. All local authorities must adopt a code of conduct, with sanctions when members do not adhere. I recently met the chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life to reaffirm that the Government will respond shortly to his committee’s report on this issue, when we will set out further steps to improve the system.

John Whittingdale Portrait Mr Whittingdale
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Does my hon. Friend agree that as the Government strengthen locally elected institutions, bodies and individuals as part of the levelling-up agenda, it becomes all the more important that they are properly held to account by local media—newspapers, radio and television? Will she look at what more can be done to sustain local media, which is under terrific pressure?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

My right hon. Friend is right. Local news providers remain uniquely placed to undertake the investigative journalism and scrutiny of public institutions that is vital to ensuring a healthy democracy at local level. This is primarily a matter for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, but I am happy to meet my right hon. Friend to find out more about it.

Barry Sheerman Portrait Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Am I living in a parallel universe? [Hon. Members: “Yes!”] Listening to some Government Members talk about their experience of their local authorities and their local situation, I feel I must be in a different world. The fact of the matter is that the morale of local authorities and local councillors is at rock bottom, because during these years and years of Conservative Government there have been so few resources for local authorities to actually do their job. They want to do their job—they would love to level up—but just like the northern powerhouse, this all looks like pie in the sky to my constituents.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I did not hear a question, so I will just disagree with the hon. Gentleman.

Robert Buckland Portrait Sir Robert Buckland (South Swindon) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Accountability in local government includes participation from the widest corners of our society. As the Disability Policy Centre highlighted in its recent report, “Breaking Down Barriers”, accessibility of local authority buildings is still a major issue for disabled people. Only two in five of local authority homepages on the web are accessible. What work will the Government do to ensure we can open up local democracy to more people with disabilities?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

My right hon. and learned Friend raises a very important issue. Officials are consistently looking at ways to ensure we comply with the Equality Act 2010. If there is a specific example he would like to give me, I would appreciate it if he wrote to me, and then I can provide him with a more comprehensive response.

Joanna Cherry Portrait Joanna Cherry (Edinburgh South West) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

16. What steps he is taking to ensure that levelling-up funding is allocated equitably and transparently.

Oral Answers to Questions

Kemi Badenoch Excerpts
Monday 24th January 2022

(2 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Mark Garnier Portrait Mark Garnier (Wyre Forest) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

2. What steps he is taking to ensure standards in public life are upheld at local authority level.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Levelling Up Communities (Kemi Badenoch)
- Hansard - -

The Government champion high ethical standards in local government. On 14 January, I supported the important Bill of my hon. Friend the Member for Mole Valley (Sir Paul Beresford) to disqualify sex offenders from local office and, before Christmas, I met the Chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life to reaffirm that we will shortly be responding to the Committee’s report on this important issue and will set out further steps to improve the system.

Mark Garnier Portrait Mark Garnier
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am sure that you of all people, Mr Speaker, would agree that standards of politicians at every level are not always observed. On Wyre Forest District Council, a local councillor has been sanctioned for not the first, but the fourth time, for standards breaches. In this case, it was the leader of the Liberal Democrat group, but I think that we would all agree that frequent offenders who see sanctions as an occupational hazard of being a controversial councillor come from every political party. It is three years since the recommendations of the Committee on Standards in Public Life on local government ethical standards were published. Can the Minister confirm if and when the Government will legislate to implement their recommendations and that any legislation will equip councils with more robust sanctions for serious or repeated breaches of the code of conduct, an example of which could be a ban for six months?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Hansard - -

I thank my hon. Friend for raising this important issue and for his recent letter on the matter, which I shall respond to shortly. I am actively considering the recommendations set out in the report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, and will respond shortly. It is of the utmost importance that local authorities have the right tools to make the system work.

Dave Doogan Portrait Dave Doogan (Angus) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Last summer, the senior Conservative councillor in my Angus constituency was unmasked as being behind an anonymous anti-SNP Twitter troll account, and for peddling misogynistic commentary on the appearance of female politicians, with flagrant attacks also on local councillors and parliamentarians. Conservative bosses in Scotland have mandated that he goes on a social media course, thereby paving the way for him to stand again in the May Scottish council elections. Does the Minister think that this is an acceptable way for Scottish Conservative councillors to behave?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Hansard - -

I am afraid that I do not know the details of that case specifically. Although I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is raising a very important issue, what I would say is that he looks at the recommendations in the report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life. I think that he will find some things there that will address the situation to which he refers.

Mike Amesbury Portrait Mike Amesbury (Weaver Vale) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Standards, such as openness and honesty, are indeed important, and I do hope that the Prime Minister will soon agree to that. Despite the language and rhetoric of levelling up, the reality is somewhat different in our communities. How can we have local authority funding in the north of £413 per person over 10 years and spending of just £32 per person and it be classed as levelling up? The Secretary of State is quickly getting a reputation for himself in the Wirral as the Minister for closing down, laying off, and hollowing out, with libraries, leisure centres and public sector workers facing the chop? At what stage does he intend to get a grip and level up local government finances?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Hansard - -

I am not sure whether that is a question specifically on the Committee on Standards in Public Life. The hon. Gentleman will know that the provisional local government settlement was published and that he and I have had discussions about that, which show that there is a significant increase in core spending power.

Andy Carter Portrait Andy Carter (Warrington South) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I start by agreeing with the hon. Member for Weaver Vale (Mike Amesbury) about openness and transparency. Last week, the energy company in which Warrington Borough Council bought a 50% stake collapsed. My constituents are rightly concerned that £50 million of public money was invested in a loss-making company. Will the Minister meet me to look at what steps we can take to protect local services and what lessons we can learn from governance in local authorities.

Beth Winter Portrait Beth Winter (Cynon Valley) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

3. What assessment he has made of trends in the level of new homes provided for social rent since 2010.

--- Later in debate ---
Clive Lewis Portrait Clive Lewis (Norwich South) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

In my city of Norwich, we have had less levelling up and more vital services simply levelled. Will the Secretary of State stop fobbing us off with insufficient, ad hoc pots of money and ensure that sustainable, long-term funding is given to my city and county councils, the real engines of any levelling-up agenda?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Levelling Up Communities (Kemi Badenoch)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

We do provide sustainable funding. The hon. Gentleman will know that the provisional local government finance settlement made available an additional £3.5 billion to councils. Norwich City Council had an increase in cash terms of up to 4.8% compared with last year, giving it a total core spending power of up to £18.6 million. Norfolk County Council got an increase of up to £55.5 million and the core spending power of South Norfolk District Council was at £15.7 million. If there are further conversations that he would like to have, I am very happy for him to write to me.

Maria Miller Portrait Mrs Maria Miller (Basingstoke) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Compared with communities across the country, Basingstoke has built 50% more new homes over the past two decades. Local residents want to make sure that we have homes for our children and grandchildren, but we believe that Basingstoke has been doing far more than that. What advice can my right hon. Friend give my local council on how we can make sure that future projected house-building levels reflect the very special circumstances in my constituency?

Oral Answers to Questions

Kemi Badenoch Excerpts
Monday 25th October 2021

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Robert Halfon Portrait Robert Halfon (Harlow) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

7. What steps his Department is taking to support towns.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Levelling Up Communities (Kemi Badenoch)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The Department is investing billions in regeneration across the whole UK as part of the Government’s central priority to level up and unite our country. Programmes such as the £3.6 billion towns fund and the £4.8 billion levelling-up fund will help to achieve that by supporting the renewal of our towns and cities, including in my right hon. Friend’s constituency of Harlow, which has been awarded a £23.7 million town deal.

Robert Halfon Portrait Robert Halfon
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am pleased to report to the House that almost 8,000 new apprentices have been taken on in Harlow since 2010. Does my hon. Friend agree that the best example of levelling up is providing young people with the skills they need to climb the educational ladder of opportunity? To that purpose, will she, my constituency neighbour, support our bid of £20 million to the levelling-up fund to provide vital regeneration for Harlow to help our town to grow and evolve?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

As a fellow Essex MP, I am delighted that so many apprentices have taken their step towards a career in my right hon. Friend’s constituency. I know many of them will have come from my own constituency next door in Saffron Walden. It is fair to say that we both agree that equipping the next generation with the skills to compete and succeed is integral to levelling up. Having said that, I cannot comment on individual bids to our levelling-up fund—I suspect I will be saying that quite a lot during this afternoon’s session—but I will say to him that we are determined to help Harlow transform local skills and infrastructure, capitalising on his brand-new hospital, science park and, of course, the £23.7 million town deal.

Barry Sheerman Portrait Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

If the ministerial team are serious about levelling up, they must look at towns and their sustainability. As the Minister is travelling around, will she bring her team to visit Huddersfield, where we have committed to being a sustainable town with health and wellbeing at its heart, using the United Nations sustainable development goals to deliver in a meaningful way?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I think the hon. Gentleman and I are in agreement about the importance of sustainability. I would be delighted to find out more about what is happening in Huddersfield. I will have my officials check my diary to see when time will be available.

Philip Davies Portrait Philip Davies (Shipley) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Shipley was delighted to receive £25 million from the towns fund, and Bingley in my constituency is another town in urgent need of support. The Secretary of State talked about the timing of the levelling-up fund. Will the Minister confirm whether the criteria for the next round of bidding to the levelling-up fund will be the same as for the first round of bidding, and will she look favourably upon a bid from Bingley to the levelling-up fund?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

At the moment, we are reviewing the first tranche of the levelling-up fund, so the criteria for the second and future tranches will be decided in due course, but I can tell my hon. Friend that we have heard his plea. We shall be looking, as we will across the House, at all the pleas from people who would like to see more from the levelling-up fund.

Conor McGinn Portrait Conor McGinn (St Helens North) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am sure that the Minister will join me in welcoming the bold and ambitious plans to transform our town centres in St Helens borough—in St Helens, Newton-le-Willows and Earlestown. We have reached an innovative partnership with the English cities fund and the private sector. The missing part of the jigsaw are the Government. We want a hand up, not a handout, so will she guarantee that the levelling-up fund will be based on need and on the merit of the proposal?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I think that goes without saying. Yes, of course, we recognise that many places would like to see additional funds from the levelling-up fund, but we will evaluate the strength of the bid from the hon. Member’s constituency. That will be taken across with everybody else’s bid, and those most in need shall get what they require.

Jonathan Gullis Portrait Jonathan Gullis (Stoke-on-Trent North) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

You will be aware, Mr Speaker, that the city of Stoke-on-Trent was born out of the five towns—or the six towns, depending on whose course of history you took—but unfortunately Burslem and Tunstall, the two towns I am pleased to represent, have vanity projects such as Ceramica and an out-of-town retail park right next to the high street—both built under former Labour administrations—with both high streets suffering as a result. Does my hon. Friend agree that the £3.5 million levelling-up fund bid for Tunstall, which will go a long way to regenerating our high street, Tunstall town and the baths, plus the high streets task force, will help us bring these towns back to life?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

Yes. [Interruption.]

Janet Daby Portrait Janet Daby (Lewisham East) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

8. What plans his Department has to strengthen local authority powers on regulating houses in multiple occupation.

--- Later in debate ---
Jerome Mayhew Portrait Jerome Mayhew (Broadland) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

23. What steps his Department is taking to support regeneration in towns and cities.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait The Minister for Levelling Up Communities (Kemi Badenoch)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The Department is investing billions in local growth funds—including the towns fund and the levelling-up fund, which I mentioned earlier—to deliver regeneration across the UK as we level up across all parts of the country. Our high streets strategy, published earlier this year, outlined our vision for supporting thriving places. We have an ambitious agenda for improving opportunity, living standards and public services, and for renewing pride for the whole of the UK. That will be set out in our upcoming levelling-up paper.

Jack Brereton Portrait Jack Brereton
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Minister for that response. Supporting cities such as Stoke-on-Trent, so that we level up opportunity and get the investment we need, is vital. Will my hon. Friend have a chat with the Chancellor and the Secretary of State about supporting our levelling-up bids through this week’s Budget, so that we get the investment we need in Stoke-on-Trent?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I recognise that hon. Members from Stoke-on-Trent are very keen and have thrown their full support behind the levelling-up bids that have been submitted. The bids are being assessed in line with the published assessment process. The outcomes of the first round will be announced this autumn, as we have said, but I cannot comment specifically on his bid.

Holly Mumby-Croft Portrait Holly Mumby-Croft
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Does my hon. Friend agree that initiatives such as Conservative-run North Lincolnshire Council’s policy of two hours’ free parking are incredibly important for supporting our high streets and town centres? I extend an invitation to her: if she wishes to make use of one of those free parking spaces, we would be very glad to show her our ambitious levelling-up plans.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I agree with my hon. Friend: parking policies are important in supporting high streets to thrive. That is one of the reasons why, in the build back better high streets strategy, we announced a package of measures to make parking more accessible. I thank her for the strong support she has shown for North Lincolnshire’s levelling-up fund bids. She will know that we expect to announce the outcomes later.

Darren Henry Portrait Darren Henry
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Government’s levelling-up agenda will finally bring much-needed investment to the east midlands, and the town of Kimberley in my constituency may gain hugely from it. Kimberley has some fantastic ideas, such as moving its cricket pitch and building a new community hub. However, there is concern among local community leaders that if the money is committed for a three-year time span but is not spent on time, it will no longer be available for use on the new hub. Can I have a commitment from the Minister that that is not the case?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

We are looking to empower local communities such as Kimberley as part of our levelling-up agenda, but I must stress that any project that wishes to gain Government funding must have a fully developed plan before bidding. Places should have confidence in their capacity to deliver to agreed timescales.

Cherilyn Mackrory Portrait Cherilyn Mackrory
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Falmouth has huge potential. It is the third-deepest natural harbour in the world and is the gateway to the Atlantic. However, it is crying out for investment, and often gets overlooked because of how well the town does with very little. I stand ready to make the case for Falmouth in the next tranche of the levelling-up fund. Will the Minister confirm that the next tranche will be forthcoming? The Secretary of State said that we would have it in a wee while. Could the Minister perhaps expand on that? Will she, or the Secretary of State, join me for a tour of Falmouth to see how it could unleash its potential?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

First of all, I congratulate my hon. Friend on the Truro town deal in her constituency and welcome her continued work as a champion of the area. I encourage her and local partners to continue to work with us on our shared ambition to level up Falmouth and towns throughout Cornwall as future opportunities emerge. She will know that as part of this work, £88.7 million of towns fund investment is driving regeneration and growth in Camborne, Penzance, St Ives and Truro, and there are real economic benefits for Falmouth, too. I am sure she and I can discuss a potential visit in due course.

Jerome Mayhew Portrait Jerome Mayhew
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Levelling up has sometimes been mis-described as a transfer of resources from the south to the north, but is it not a better analysis to say that it spreads the opportunities often seen in cities to the towns and villages of our communities, as part of the wider social covenant? If so, what plans does the Minister have to support towns in Broadland, including Fakenham, Acle and Aylsham?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I should start by saying that the levelling-up agenda is not transferring resources from cities to towns, or from south to north. Levelling up is about empowering local leaders and communities to drive real change, and restoring local pride across the UK, so I thank my hon. Friend for asking that question. The Government are investing over £17 million in Norfolk’s towns, with ambitious town deals already delivered in Norwich, Great Yarmouth and King’s Lynn. The UK shared prosperity fund will help to ensure levelling up for people in places across the UK. It will increase and spread opportunity for people no matter where they live, including in places like Fakenham.

Toby Perkins Portrait Mr Toby Perkins (Chesterfield) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The town deal is incredibly important to us in Staveley, and we welcome the fact that the Government are supporting the plans for the town centre. Will the Minister stress to her colleagues that the cut to universal credit will fatally undermine retail in Staveley, and that these plans would benefit from universal credit not being cut?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The hon. Gentleman will know that the Government are doing everything they can to support communities such as his. He knows the official Government policy on universal credit. We are putting other resources in place to support those people in his community who need them the most.

Catherine West Portrait Catherine West (Hornsey and Wood Green) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

With Question 16 in mind, which we may not fit in today, may I ask what urgent action the Department will take, with COP26 around the corner, to ensure that local authorities have a proper grip on flood defences and the environmental issues that councils face day by day?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I apologise to the hon. Lady, but I am not sure, given her reference to COP26, what sort of answer she is expecting. I can ensure that she gets a letter providing further information.

Jeff Smith Portrait Jeff Smith (Manchester, Withington) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Even if we add up all the piecemeal pots of regeneration funding that the Government like to mention in their press releases, they still come to nowhere near the £15 billion that has been cut from local councils under the Tories. The Government have failed to deliver on promises to reimburse covid costs, and the Tory-led Local Government Association says that there is now £2.6 billion in non-covid cost pressures on councils. On Wednesday, the Chancellor has the chance to tackle the council funding crisis that the Government have created, so what demands have Ministers in this team made to get the Budget settlement that all our towns and cities need?

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Kemi Badenoch
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I cannot comment specifically on what will be announced in the Budget this Wednesday, but I will tell the hon. Gentleman what, for instance, we did in the most recent local government finance settlement. In this year’s settlement, we made available an increase in core spending power in England; it will go from £49 billion this year to £51.3 billion in 2021-22—a 4.6% increase in cash terms. We see ourselves as a supporter of local government across the country; we very much speak up for it in our discussions with the Treasury, and I am sure that will become apparent on Wednesday.

Toby Perkins Portrait Mr Toby Perkins (Chesterfield) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

T1. If he will make a statement on his departmental responsibilities.

Budget Resolutions

Kemi Badenoch Excerpts
1st reading: House of Commons
Thursday 1st November 2018

(5 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Finance Act 2019 View all Finance Act 2019 Debates Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Kemi Badenoch Portrait Mrs Kemi Badenoch (Saffron Walden) (Con)
- Hansard - -

It is a pleasure to speak in this debate and to highlight the measures in the Budget that will be most welcomed by my constituents.

Many of my constituents will be thrilled by the increase in the personal allowance threshold, the higher rate threshold and the national living wage. I never tire of reminding people that I am a low-tax Conservative, and any Budget that gives 32 million people a tax break certainly gets my vote. Despite the mocking of Opposition Members, the funding for potholes is something that many of my constituents have been asking for repeatedly. The damage and cost to vehicles and the environment are enormous, and if they are not fixed soon, that will only decrease road safety and cost the Government and the taxpayer so much more later. It is right that we are spending that money.

Another issue that I must take the opportunity to highlight is crime and policing. My constituents want to see more money spent in this area, because our families and communities want to feel safe. I am glad the Chancellor referenced that in his speech, and I know that residents across Essex will be awaiting a very generous review of the police funding settlement this December.

I strongly welcome the extra £500 million for the housing infrastructure fund, so that councils can deliver 650,000 more homes. I am pleased that Chelmsford City Council is already shortlisted to receive a £5.7 million investment, to help with the Beaulieu station and north-east bypass projects, which are expected to deliver £250 million to the local economy and support more than 3,500 jobs. I pay tribute to the hard work of my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Vicky Ford). We have been working together to promote those schemes, to the mutual benefit of our constituents. I also look forward to helping Uttlesford District Council in its bid for housing capacity funding to help deliver the infrastructure we need to provide for three new garden communities in the coming years.

Last year’s abolition of stamp duty on homes up to £300,000 has led to an 11-year high in the number of first-time buyers, with over 120,000 people being helped by this measure. I welcome the fact that stamp duty is now also being abolished for first-time buyers of shared ownership, because that was the type of property that helped me on to the housing ladder. I would not have what I have today without having had a shared ownership property, and I am glad that this option is being extended to even more people. I am also glad this will be backdated to cover those who have purchased shared ownership properties since last year’s Budget. I also welcome the fact that Help to Buy is being extended by two years, up to 2023, which will help so many more young people to own their own home. As well as helping people to get on the housing ladder, this change will diversify home ownership. So many of our towns and villages will become retirement homes without an influx of younger people bringing their skills and talents to our area, and these measures are to be welcomed.

This year, like last year, I joined my right hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Robert Halfon) to lobby for fuel duty to be frozen. I congratulate him on his tireless campaigning on this issue, and the Chancellor on agreeing to our request. In the Chancellor’s own words, freezing fuel duty again will have

“saved the average car driver £850 and the average van driver over £2,100.”

This is important because it affects not just motorists but their families, and continuing the freeze will help to keep their bills and their overall cost of living low.

Finally, I welcome the digital services tax and the way the Chancellor has chosen to implement it. A constituent who runs an online business visited me at my surgery with concerns about an online sales tax for small business trading. He felt that an online sales tax for small businesses could be very damaging for him and his family, and he was worried that start-ups run by couples from the homes where they live and work would be affected. Small businesses such as PVC Tube Online in Great Dunmow drive our local economies, and their owners face risk and uncertainty to grow their companies and to provide a better tomorrow for their families. I am therefore delighted that this digital services tax will target only the world’s wealthiest companies with global revenues of at least £500 million. The revenues raised will be money available to spend on our public services, so that families across the country can see more investment in their communities. Addressing the huge profits that the biggest companies make through their activity in the UK recognises the changing nature of the digital economy and the issues that accompany that, and this tax is a stepping stone to addressing those issues properly.

This Government are looking to the future and at how we can solve the problems of the 21st century. This is a forward-looking Budget, and I will be voting for it later today.

Oral Answers to Questions

Kemi Badenoch Excerpts
Monday 23rd July 2018

(5 years, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

No. As I have already highlighted, I recognise the issues of supply and of affordability. That is why we have invested more heavily in this and, indeed, given councils additional borrowing flexibilities of about £1 billion in England. Yes, of course, we recognise the challenge, and that is why this Government are responding.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Mrs Kemi Badenoch (Saffron Walden) (Con)
- Hansard - -

2. What recent assessment he has made of his Department’s progress on delivering more new homes.

James Brokenshire Portrait The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (James Brokenshire)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

In 2016-17, we added 217,000 homes to the housing stock in England—the highest level in all but one of the past 30 years. We have set out an ambitious package of reforms to create a housing market that delivers 300,000 homes a year on average by the mid-2020s.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Mrs Badenoch
- Hansard - -

I thank the Secretary of State for that answer. A recent report by the think-tank Onward proposes that more of the land value created by housing development needs to be captured for the community, not just by developers. Does he agree?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend makes an important point in that developers should be held to account on, for example, delivering their commitments on infrastructure and affordable homes for communities. That is why we are proposing a new approach to viability assessments in the revised national planning policy framework, and we have consulted on further reforms to developer contributions.

Windrush

Kemi Badenoch Excerpts
Monday 30th April 2018

(5 years, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts

Urgent Questions are proposed each morning by backbench MPs, and up to two may be selected each day by the Speaker. Chosen Urgent Questions are announced 30 minutes before Parliament sits each day.

Each Urgent Question requires a Government Minister to give a response on the debate topic.

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Sajid Javid Portrait Sajid Javid
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Gentleman makes a good point about other members of the Commonwealth, to which I referred briefly a moment ago. I want to ensure that we are looking at this carefully to see whether we need to take further steps where people are affected. The hon. Gentleman will know about the taskforce that we set up for the Windrush generation. I will not hesitate in taking any further steps that would help.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Mrs Kemi Badenoch (Saffron Walden) (Con)
- Hansard - -

I welcome the Secretary of State to his new role. Like him, I have an immigrant background. I am not a second generation, but a first generation, immigrant. The fact that we are both sitting on these Benches is a testament to how open and welcoming our country and, in fact, our party is to new immigrants. In the Secretary of State’s previous role, he would have been overseeing plans this year to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Empire Windrush arriving in the UK, so he knows that this is not just an immigration issue, but a communities issue. Will he tell us of any opportunities that he may see for cross-departmental working to ensure that this situation does not happen again?

Sajid Javid Portrait Sajid Javid
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is right to point out that there is a huge amount to celebrate about the Windrush generation, with the 70th anniversary of the arrival of MV Windrush occurring this June. My previous Department has done a huge amount of work on that, and I hope to work closely with it to make sure that we have the very best celebration we possibly can to show people from that generation exactly what they mean to this country and how much we respect everything that they have done for us.

Department for Transport

Kemi Badenoch Excerpts
Kemi Badenoch Portrait Mrs Kemi Badenoch (Saffron Walden) (Con)
- Hansard - -

Until a few months ago, I was a London Assembly member and I was always pleased to see the incredible amount of investment being committed by the Government to London. Anyone living in or visiting the city over the past eight years cannot help but have noticed the significant continuous improvement in transport infrastructure. However, I have been an Essex MP for eight months and I am somewhat less pleased when I compare the London numbers with those for my eastern region. Last year, in the east of England, just £74 million was spent on local public transport; my region received just 3.8% of the UK’s budget for such services over a five-year period.

I do think the Government have the correct approach to fiscal management, but I do not wish to see the community services adversely affected, especially those that make no demands on the Exchequer. It may therefore not surprise Members to know that I am one of the MPs who is speaking today on community transport. Uttlesford Community Travel currently runs under the section 19 and 22 permits set out within the Transport Act 1985. However, it is at risk of being priced out of the wonderful work it does in the area because of the high cost of training qualifications being mandated, so I am asking the Department to protect community travel services and their volunteers. Other Members of this House, including the hon. Member for Harrow West (Gareth Thomas) and my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Goole (Andrew Percy), have spoken about the great work these groups do in our constituencies, and not least among them is Uttlesford Community Travel, in my constituency, which is run by Ian Shaw and Malcolm Barrell. I am here representing them.

Some time ago, I raised this matter in person with the Secretary of State, who was sympathetic. My hon. Friend the Member for Bexhill and Battle (Huw Merriman) referred earlier to a Government letter of clarification, which hopefully will address the issue. I remain optimistic and hope that an exemption will be found for Uttlesford Community Travel and so many other charity transport providers throughout the country, so that they can continue to help to improve so many people’s quality of life.