The Association of Green Councillors, which represents Green Party Councillors across England and Wales, has today (30 September) released a statement criticising the new Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.
The address registers the body’s concerns surrounding the appointment of Michael Gove to the ministerial position, as well as uncertainty towards the rebranding and what this means for the department.
The recent cabinet reshuffle saw Michael Gove allocated Minister of Housing, Communities and Local Government, which he has since renamed the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. The Government claims that this change in title aligns with the department’s commitment to raising living standards and increasing opportunities across ‘undervalued communities’, though many within the Green Party remain doubtful.
The statement goes as follows: “Following the Government’s announcement of Michael Gove’s appointment as Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the removal of ‘Local Government’ from his ministerial title, Green Councillors call for re-affirmation and acknowledgement of the crucial role of local councils.
“Greens welcome the idea of better-funded communities. The Government’s definition, however, falls far short of what is needed.
“We have had 11 years of Conservative austerity pushed on councils. Local public services clearly need vital investment. A return to pre-2010 funding levels would be what really helps level up the country.
“However, it is clear that the Government doesn’t trust local government to deliver. After all, it sees local government as so unimportant that it would choose to remove them from the name of the ministry which oversees it.
“In his history as a minister, Michael Gove has shown his desire to dramatically reorganise how things work. In his reign as Secretary of State for Education, we saw academisation supercharged. Along with this, he introduced ill-judged reforms to the curriculum, grading and exams. If he wants to show his commitment to levelling up communities, he must not repeat his record.
“The Association of Green Councillors believe that it is local government who knows its communities best. Local government knows where to invest to help grow areas that have been left behind.
“If Michael Gove wants to show his commitment to local government we urge him to:
- Give councils stronger powers in deciding on what works best for their communities;
- Likewise, return the revenue support grant that allowed local councils to provide vital services, without having to raise fees or council tax year on year;
- In addition, find a better solution for funding adult social care, that doesn’t put local government out of pocket;
- Not to reintroduce the damaging planning reforms he has scrapped and introduce plans that force developers to build genuinely affordable homes.”
Chair of the Association of Green Councillors, Cllr Nicola Day from Peterborough City Council, added: “As Green Councillors, we are urging the Government to show us that they take local government seriously. But we won’t have much hope – they take us so seriously, they took us out of the name of the department.
“While we believe communities need investment, we challenge the Government’s approach. We urge Michael Gove as the new Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to take action to fix some of Local Government’s biggest challenges, like underfunding.”