UK Politics

Jeremy Corbyn: 'Councils should run local services'

Jeremy Corbyn Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wants councils to become "public entrepreneurs"

Councils should be able to run utilities in their areas as part of moves to "roll back the tide" of privatisation, Jeremy Corbyn has said.

Privatisation of services has made them less accountable, the Labour leader told a conference in Nottingham.

He said English councils should have similar powers to cities on the continent, where local authorities have control of water and energy services.

A Conservative spokesman said such a move would "hurt working people".

Mr Corbyn's support for public ownership and anti-austerity message are at the centre of Labour's campaign for May's local elections in England.

'Forced privatisation'

He told the Association of Labour Councillors conference he wants councils to become "public entrepreneurs" with greater freedom to spend taxpayers' money and to borrow to fund investment and public services.

Mr Corbyn, who has already set out plans to take the railways back into public ownership, said he would back local authorities to take control of utilities and other services in their area.

"Privatisation isn't just about who runs a service, it's about who services are accountable to," he said.

"It's about who shares the rewards, about protecting the workforce and getting a good deal for local people who use the services.

"After a generation of forced privatisation and outsourcing of public services, the evidence has built up that handing services over to private companies routinely delivers poorer quality, higher cost, worse terms and conditions for the workforce, less transparency and less say for the public.

"We will give councils greater freedoms to roll back the tide of forced privatisation.

"It locks people out of decision-making, makes services less accountable, too often means a bad deal for taxpayers, a bad deal for communities and a bad deal for those that work in the services too."

'Systematic misogyny'

A Conservative spokesman said: "This is another example of how the Labour Party will hurt working people by racking up more debt and increasing taxes to pay for it - driving up the cost of living for working families.

"That's why Labour are a threat to our economic security and every working family's security. The Conservatives will continue to deliver stability, security and opportunity for working people."

Mr Corbyn also said that remaining in the European Union was in the best interests of the British people.

However, he said he wants to see further reforms in Brussels, including stronger workers' rights and an end to the pressure to privatise public services.

The speech comes as it emerged a Muslim women's group has written to Mr Corbyn claiming women have been stopped from becoming councillors by Muslim men in the party.

Muslim Women's Network UK demanded an inquiry into "systematic misogyny displayed by significant numbers of Muslim male local councillors".

Labour said its selection procedures included strong, positive action such as all-women shortlists and rules to ensure women were selected in winnable council seats.

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