Key extracts from the 17 December letter from Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Jon Trickett to Labour council leaders To the Leaders of Labour Councils
We are writing to you as Leader of the Party, Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Shadow Chancellor. Today the government has announced the local government settlement. In spite of their smoke screens, it is quite clear that once again a huge cut in local government spending is being imposed by the Tories.
A number of colleagues have requested clarity about Labour Party policy concerning the setting of legal budgets.
The Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell MP, said in September, “....the situation councils are now in is if they don’t set a budget, a council officer will do it for them. There is no choice for them anymore.” As you know, councils must set a balanced budget under the Local Government Act 1992. If this does not happen, i.e. if a council fails to set a legal budget, then the council’s Section 151 Officer is required to issue the council with a notice under Section 114 of the 1988 Local Government Act. Councillors are then required to take all the necessary actions in order to bring the budget back into balance.
Failing to do so can lead to complaints against councillors under the Code of Conduct, judicial review of the council and, most significantly, government intervention by the Secretary of State. It would mean either council officers or, worse still, Tory ministers deciding council spending priorities. Their priorities would certainly not meet the needs of the communities which elected us.
With best wishes,
Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Jon Trickett
A full version of this letter is available at www.labour.org.uk/page/-/lg-settlement.pdf