Jeremy Corbyn backing councils to be 'public entrepreneurs' under Labour


Labour will support councils to reverse a generation of "forced privatisation" of local services, putting them back under the control of town halls, Jeremy Corbyn will declare.

The Labour leader will put his anti-austerity message and support for public ownership at the centre of the party's campaign for May's local elections in England.

A series of elections in May, including to the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and the London mayoral contest, will be seen as a crucial test of Mr Corbyn's leadership.

In an address to Labour's local government conference, Mr Corbyn will say he wants councils to become "public entrepreneurs" with greater freedom to spend taxpayers' money and borrow to fund investment and public services.

He will set out a vision for English councils to have similar powers to cities on the continent, where local authorities have taken over control of water and energy services.

In the speech in Nottingham, he will say: "Our message in the local government campaign is clear: Labour is standing up for you and a Labour council is the best protection for your community and local services against the onslaught of Tory cuts. People are better off with Labour.

"The Tories' austerity is political choice, not an economic necessity. These cuts are brutal and unnecessary and it is a Labour council that is the best protection for communities."

Mr Corbyn, who has already set out plans to take the railways back into public ownership, said he would back local authorities to take control of utilities and other services in their area.

"Privatisation isn't just about who runs a service, it's about who services are accountable to. It's about who shares the rewards, about protecting the workforce and getting a good deal for local people who use the services," he will say.

"After a generation of forced privatisation and outsourcing of public services, the evidence has built up that handing services over to private companies routinely delivers poorer quality, higher cost, worse terms and conditions for the workforce, less transparency and less say for the public.

"We will give councils greater freedoms to roll back the tide of forced privatisation. It locks people out of decision-making, makes services less accountable, too often means a bad deal for taxpayers, a bad deal for communities and a bad deal for workers too.

"That's what's been happening across Europe - where scores of cities across our continent have been taking water, energy and other services back into local public ownership.

"We want to deliver the very best for our communities and deliver the very best services - locally run, locally owned and locally accountable."

A Labour government would give councils "real powers to innovate, to borrow and to invest", he will say.

"We want local councils to have the freedom to develop their local economies and communities and to become the public entrepreneurs of the 21st century and to directly provide cutting-edge public services and utilities in the economy of the future."