London Finance Commission to help Mayor secure a fairer funding deal
The London Finance Commission, an independent panel set up by the Mayor Boris Johnson to explore how London could have more control of the revenue generated from its taxes, hosted its first evidence session today.
Chaired by leading academic and economist Professor Tony Travers of the London School Economics, the panel was created by the Mayor as a key part of his manifesto pledge to ensure that London gets a fairer funding deal with greater discretion over spending to drive jobs and economic growth for Londoners.
Meeting at City Hall, expert witnesses gave evidence which will be considered as part of the Commission’s examination into the current way of funding the capital, and how it could be improved to help secure London’s position as the world’s leading city.
The witnesses in the first session included author of the Lyons Inquiry into public finance Sir Michael Lyons, former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies Paul Johnson and Jim Gallagher, an academic who worked closely on the Calman Commission on Scottish Devolution.
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: "The London Finance Commission is set to do a vital job in exploring how we can help take more control over this city's funding to improve the economic prospects of our growing capital city and securing its future as the world’s best big city.
“I have consistently made the case that investment in London benefits the wider UK economy, helping to drive jobs and growth throughout the country. London’s taxpayers pour billions into the nation's coffers and cannot simply be a cash cow for the country without a greater say in how this cash is used.
"I am grateful to Tony Travers, the independent volunteers on the panel, and all the witnesses who will take part, for their contributions to this crucial debate."
Chair of the Commission Prof Tony Travers said: "London pays over £200 billion a year in taxes. The London Finance Commission is exploring the possibility that greater control over these resources could be held locally.
"It will consider options for how this might be done in order to deliver faster growth, and therefore more jobs and a better quality of life."
Today’s meeting was the first of two oral evidence sessions which will inform the Commission’s final report, due in spring 2013. The witnesses were asked to consider whether funding arrangements for London were too centralised, what alternative arrangements would better serve London to create jobs and growth, and whether the capital would benefit from greater financial autonomy.
A webcast of the hearing is available on the London Finance Commission website: http://www.london.gov.uk/london-finance-commission
Notes to editors
1. The Mayor established the independent London Finance Commission in July 2012 to investigate options for devolving financial competencies to the London level in line with manifesto commitments. Tony Travers of the London School of Economics chairs the Commission, which is made up of a wide range of London experts holding voluntary posts, reflecting a number of political and professional backgrounds and offering wide London representation.
Jules Pipe (Chair of London Councils)
Teresa O’Neill (Vice Chair of London Councils)
John Biggs (London Assembly Member for City & East)
Chris Duffield (Town Clerk and Chief Executive of the City of London)
Nick Holgate (Finance Director at the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea)
Bridget Rosewell (Chairman of Volterra Consulting)
Alexandra Jones (Chief Executive of Centre for Cities)
Mike Emmerich (Chief Executive of New Economy Manchester)
Gerald Jones (former Chief Executive of Wandsworth Council)
Steven Hughes (Chief Executive of Birmingham City Council)