Hilary Benn MP, Labour’s Shadow Communities Secretary, responding to Nick Clegg's speech on cities, said:
"This speech is a smokescreen for further big cuts to council funding being announced today by the Tory-led Government. These will particularly hit the most disadvantaged communities in England, which have already seen bigger cuts than less deprived areas. With local council jobs going – affecting twice as many women as men - cutting too far and too fast is forcing local authorities around the country to cut frontline services on which both residents and business depend. With all this happening, Nick Clegg's out of touch claim to be giving our big cities the key to their future is so hollow as to be meaningless.
"Labour helped revive our great cities with huge investment and ambition, but the real credit goes to local councils who provided the leadership. And while Nick Clegg talks about transferring power we have just had a Localism Act in which Eric Pickles took new powers for himself.
"On business rates and the resource review, there is no guarantee for councils that they will not lose out financially and that there will be proper redistribution from the most well-off to the least. And how much of business rate income will the Government be taking away from local councils to keep for itself?"