This week I attended the 25th Local Government Association Conference on behalf of our borough.

It was an opportunity for the whole local government sector to get together and discuss the big issues we all face and try to put forward some of the solutions needed to address these.

Sadly, for over a decade now, every single Conservative government and Secretary of State have been responsible for cutting and undermining local services.

Recent research showed that northern authorities were more likely to face the worst of this.

We have all experienced increased council tax and reductions in services.

Paying more but getting less. I’m afraid that this is not going to change any time soon.

Despite promises to “level up”, nothing has been done to fix the core challenges facing councils like ours – increasing costs and demand for social care but less money to cover it.

Add into this the new pressures on energy bills and inflation.

There is still no commitment to fund our councils adequately to avoid further cuts.

For Bury, this means finding close to £20m in cuts over the next year, on top of over £110m already cut since 2010.

How can we be “levelled up” when facing such a situation?

How can we support our residents facing their own squeeze on living standards right now?

And it is not just local authorities, just look at our health service too- the biggest backlogs in a generation, huge pressures on our GPs meaning residents struggling to get appointments and a workforce at breaking point.

The same backlogs at show in our passport service, DVLA and airports.

It shouldn’t be this way. We deserve better.

What is needed urgently, is a radical new approach.

One that devolves more power and money away from Whitehall and Westminster and brings it closer to us locally.

Currently, councils are forced to bid for hundreds of different pots of money from the government, many of which seek similar outcomes but are nevertheless artificially separated by Whitehall.

Instead, we should instil some common sense and a basic level of trust into a revamped system, where funding it given in one pot with clear objectives for us to be accountable to.

And just like in the pandemic, let us get on with the delivery of it.

Finally, the conference was also an opportunity to share some of the vital work we are doing in Bury to respond to the cost of living crisis, support our battered public services to recover and deliver renewal across the borough with our ambitious regeneration plans and affordable brownfield housing proposals.

Within a new system of funding and power, we would be able to do so much more of this.