Labour drive to help councils keep money in their local area


Labour is to offer local councils help in bringing public services back in-house, shadow chancellor John McDonnell has announced.

Mr McDonnell unveiled the party's new Community Wealth Building Unit, bringing together councillors, unions, think tanks and experts to offer advice to Labour councils.

He said the unit will build on the experience of Preston City Council, which he said had returned almost £200 million to the local economy, supporting more than 1,600 jobs, by using the Lancashire city's institutions and local government contracts to keep money in the local economy.

In a speech in Preston on Thursday, Mr McDonnell will say: "Tory austerity has blighted our communities and forced councils to cut and privatise many public services that we all rely on.

"The next Labour government will end austerity and properly fund local authorities, instead of cutting back and passing the buck like the Conservatives are doing. But we cannot afford to wait until we are in power nationally.

"There are many creative solutions being used already, like in Preston, and we need to spread this inspiring work around other Labour councils now, so we can bring services back in-house, stimulate the economy and provide decent jobs, extend ownership and control, and strengthen local democracy.

"By working together to share these principles where Labour is already in power locally, we can sow the seeds of a country that works for the many, not the few."

Labour cited initiatives undertaken by the council in Preston including:

- Becoming the first Living Wage employer in the North of England;

- Setting up a credit union to compete with payday loan companies;

- Persuading six large local public bodies - known as "anchor institutions" - to commit to buying goods or services locally wherever possible;

- Helping to set up worker co-operatives to provide goods and services to public bodies.