Caroline Russell by Chris King Photography

Publication from Caroline Russell: City Hall Greens Budget Amendment 2020-2021

Date published: 
29 January 2020

City Hall Greens Budget Amendment 2020-21

Each year City Hall Greens put forward constructive and practical amendments to the Mayor's budget, seeking to find missing elements in the Mayor's programme that, if funded or expanded, would help Londoners to address difficulties in their daily lives.

We have consistently sought to maximise the budget available, and to bring forward spending where possible to address problems sooner rather than later. We note that our proposals are not always taken up but several of our suggestions have appeared in subsequent Mayor's budgets; for example, the use of additional income to fund support for young people through the Young Londoners Fund since the 2018-19 budget year.

For 2017-18 we proposed that the non-police element of the council tax precept was not frozen but increased to the referendum limit to fund this kind of work, but our proposal was not taken up until the following year, instead being kept at 2016-17 levels. As such increases form part of the base council tax income for subsequent years, this lost income has added up to a total over the three years, up to the current budget, of £18.3 million. Had the non-policing element of council tax been raised as we suggested in 2017-18, the base for this budget alone would have included £4.87 million more in revenue.

We also note that the Mayor has informed the Assembly that there is £70.7 million held in the Mayor's Strategic Investment Fund that is currently uncommitted and unprofiled for spending in future years. At the Budget and Performance Committee on 7 January 2020, the Mayor indicated that he was keen to receive ideas for how to invest this money in London’s future development. We have taken up this invitation with several of our proposals.

Today, we are putting forward an amendment to the Mayor’s budget with six parts.

Our focus is on improving people’s living conditions, their environment and the cost of living in and travelling around our city. We aim to improve Londoners’ lives, particularly in the context of a climate emergency, by:

  1. Expanding planned Warmer Homes funding to support real carbon-neutral improvements to social housing, through a £30 million package to implement energy efficiencies;
  2. Supporting schools to clean up the air that pupils, teachers and parents breathe including £1 million for air pollution audits and £5 million for improvement measures;
  3. Empowering and supporting London’s renters by creating a £1.5 million fund to provide one-off grants to independent and grassroots renters’ rights organisations;
  4. Investing £27 million to extend Transport for London’s £1.50 off peak fare to offer ‘Sundays Out’ that will include all travel zones, including zone 1, for one Sunday each month for the whole financial year, alongside a programme of promoting attractions across all zones of our city and encouraging car-free street events on these days, to help all Londoners experience and take part in our city’s culture;
  5. Making all Transport for London toilets free to match changes on the railways, and funding a programme to provide high quality new toilets at tube, railway and bus stations, with an £18 million investment; and
  6. Committing £23.7 million in new funding to expand and continue the Young Londoners Fund, investing in our young people and continuing to plug the gaps in our neglected youth services.

Our proposals will be funded using a total of £105.2 million, including the unallocated £70.7 million from the Strategic Investment Fund, reallocating £18 million from planned projects within the Healthy Streets budget, £6.5 million from the Mayor’s Capital Programme Reserve, £1 million from TfL’s business rates allocation reallocated to the Mayor’s budget and focused on prioritising air quality programmes, and £10 million from the council tax surplus. Our intention is to find further funding for future years of the Young Londoners Fund from additional business rates expected in the final budget.

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