News from Gareth Bacon: Mayor keeps ‘Olympics tax’ after Games debt is wiped
Sadiq Khan using loophole to raise cash for his unbalanced budget
The Mayor of London is continuing to impose an ‘Olympic tax’ on Londoners – even though the debt of the Games has been wiped.
The tax, known as the Olympic precept, was set-up before 2012 to help pay for the Games and the associated regeneration projects.
During his electoral campaign, Sadiq Khan pledged to drop the tax once the funding was recouped from the taxpayer in 2017. However, in his first budget it has emerged he is continuing to collect the money.
London Assembly member Gareth Bacon says the Mayor is using a loophole that allows him to spend the cash on other projects, even though the Games has been paid for.
At tomorrow’s budget meeting, he will be calling on the Mayor to drop the Olympic tax and cover the cost by ditching TfL nominee passes, which allow £26million worth of free travel for flatmates of TfL staff*.
Gareth Bacon, London Assembly Member for Bexley and Bromley, said:
Sadiq Khan is trying every trick in the book to pay for his overspending at City Hall, including taxing Londoners for a Games which has already been paid off.
The Mayor needs to apologise to Londoners for breaking his promise to remove this tax. He also needs to properly balance his books without using Olympic money, which was never intended to be his blank cheque.
I will be asking for the Mayor to eliminate this tax as promised, and pay for the budget shortfall by removing the outdated policy of free travel for flatmates of TfL staff.
*Presently, staff working for TfL are entitled to nominate someone living in their property, whether a family member, friend or lodger to receive free travel on the buses, tube and DLR. This perk is not part of the employee contract and could be rescinded by transport bosses at any time. The costly scheme is projected to cost £111,171,935 up to 2020.
– In his campaign, Sadiq Khan said he “supported the decision to cut council tax following the end of the Olympic Precept”.
– Wording of the budget amendment:
As part of the funding package agreed by the first Mayor Ken Livingston, and honoured by the last Mayor Boris Johnson, the GLA committed to raise £625 million from London Council Taxpayers as a contribution to the public sector funding package for the 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games over the period 2006-07 to 2016-17. The Olympic Precept was £8 on the average Band D property in 2016-17, the financial year in which the full £625 million will have been recouped.
It was the previous Mayor’s intention to scrap the Olympic Precept and remove the remaining £8 from the council tax bills of Londoners, yet this Mayor has refused to do this, despite the fact that the £625m has now been repaid in its entirety, and there is no justification for Londoners to continue paying for the 2012 Olympic Games.
Not only was the Olympic precept a scheme that was supported by the previous two mayors, the current Mayor himself, during his electoral campaign, said that he would keep the mayoral precept as low as possible and that he “supported the decision to cut council tax following the end of the Olympic Precept”. This is an example of yet another broken promise from this mayor.
We would like to see the pledge from the previous two mayors honoured, and for Londoners to stop paying for something that has already been settled. As such, we recommend that the remaining £8 of the Olympic precept be removed from this year’s budget, which would save Londoners approximately £23m in total paid for by the removal of nominee passes.