Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs has criticised the government for driving the country towards a no-deal Brexit while at the same time leaving councils out of crucial work to prepare their residents for the possible outcome. New figures show the government is ploughing five times more money into ‘propaganda’ on a no deal Brexit than helping councils prepare.
While Tower Hamlets set up a Brexit Commission to help prepare the borough, central government has failed to offer support to local authorities. It was also revealed last week that local government has been shut out from crucial Brexit preparations, as the new Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, does not have a seat on the government’s EU Exit Operations Committee.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced last week that the anticipated multi-year Spending Review would be delayed until 2020, meaning a one-year Spending Round in September this year. This leaves government departments unable to plan properly for the future and creates a period of great uncertainty for services such as local government and the frontline services that councils provide, such as social care and children’s services. At the same time new data from the Office for National Statistics showed the economy shrank by 0.2% between April and June; the first time it has contracted since 2012.
Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said: “The government is obsessed with a no-deal Brexit and is focussed on driving the country over a cliff-edge. It has suddenly found cash to fund no-deal planning which is completely avoidable, while our residents have suffered from years of austerity. Government should stop no-deal and divert the money earmarked for this to these vital services.
“It also beggars belief that despite their obsession, local government has been shut out from no-deal preparations. Local councils provide crucial services like social care and children’s services, yet the government refuses to recognise how these services could be hit by a no-deal Brexit.”
Cllr Candida Ronald, Cabinet Member for Resources, said: “Services like local government need to be able to plan for the future not just for the year ahead, but with the massive uncertainty caused by the threat of a no-deal Brexit the government can only tell us what funding will be available for one year at a time. The government is playing games with our vital frontline services.”
Cllr Sabina Akhtar, Cabinet Member for Culture, Art and Brexit, said: “The government knows the kind of damage that a no-deal Brexit will cause to our economy but it’s not being straight with people about the potential impact. We’re doing what we can as a local council to prepare for a no-deal Brexit, but the reality is that the government needs to step up and provide more certainty for people, businesses and councils about their future.”