Mr Javid stopped by in Northampton this morning to support Andrew Lewer’s election campaign for Northampton South, and also addressed how he felt the town’s shoemaking industry could thrive if the ‘uncertainty’ of Brexit was ended.
Mr Javid was also asked about the financial crisis that engulfed Conservative-run Northamptonshire County Council. At the time that the council effectively declared itself bankrupt, Mr Javid was the Communities Secretary and it was he who sent in two commissioners in March 2018 to effectively take control of the financial management of the authority. The commissioners remain in their post.
He said: “It’s been very challenging here and one of the things that happened was to have an independent review, and to follow the advice of that review was right as well. But with your local government here in Northampton, and everywhere else in the country, we need to make sure that it’s properly funded at all times. The only way we can do that is to keep the economy strong, and that’s one of the big choices we face in this election. Vote Conservative and keep the economy strong and fund public services. Vote Labour and end up with an economic crisis as you do with every Labour government.”
But reports from the National Audit Office report states that there has been a 49.1 per cent real-term reduction in funding for local authorities between 2010/11 and 2017/18. And between 2010 and 2018, Northamptonshire County Council had to make cuts of £376 million due to the reduced funding from central government.
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Labour candidate for Northampton South, Gareth Eales, is also a county councillor. Responding to Mr Javid’s comments he said: “Considering the Conservatives have been in power for the last 10 years I find it rather patronising that they can start now talking about funding. These cuts were not done by accident, they were done by design.”
Mr Javid visited Steffans Jewellers on York Street this morning (December 5), on what was his 50th birthday, and fielded questions from selected local businesses including the jewellery store itself and from a shoemaking company.
Asked how Northampton’s industry and shoemaking businesses can thrive, he said: “Northampton is a fantastic place and it has a really good shoemaking history that we can all be proud of. We want industries like that to succeed and that means ending the Brexit uncertainty and having that trade deal with Europe and other countries so we can sell even more of our great shoes around the world. But we need to end that uncertainty and we are the only ones offering that. All the other options are dither, delay and confusion.”
Mr Javid also addressed comments made recently by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS). The thinktank said that neither the Conservative or Labour manifestos offered a ‘properly credible prospectus’.
IFS director Paul Johnson has said: “Should they win this time it is highly likely that the Conservatives would end up spending more than their manifesto implies and thus taxing or borrowing more.”
Responding to those comments, Mr Javid said: “I welcome the scrutiny. We’ve set out in detail the costs of all our policies in our manifestos and exactly how we’re going to finance them and we’ve done them year-by-year for every year of the future Parliament.”
Pressed further on whether the party was being ‘honest’ with voters, Mr Javid added that the party had been ‘really clear and transparent’.