News from Sian Berry: Mayor’s budget must build a fair future for youth services and housing

24 January 2017

Young people whose services are being cut, and people getting together in co-ops to solve London’s housing crisis would both get extra financial support from the Mayor’s budget in amendments being proposed by Sian Berry AM in the London Assembly.

Sian Berry’s amendment, which the Assembly will vote on tomorrow, would involve raising an extra £4.3 million to support council youth services, by increasing council tax by a further 0.5% on top of the increase already proposed by the Mayor. The average household would pay an extra £1.49 per year. [1]

Sian Berry’s report published last week, ‘London’s lost youth services’ exposed how councils across London have cut more than a third from budgets and staff in youth services over the past five years, with more cuts planned for this year if the Mayor doesn’t step in. [2]

To support more homes for London’s hard-pressed workers, Sian is also proposing a timely boost in funding from the Mayor.

Community-led housing is a real chance for Londoners to help tackle the housing crisis by working together, but those making plans to create homes using new models such as co-ops and community land trusts are currently mainly ‘self starting’ groups who already have experience in housebuilding or planning.

Sian has already discussed with the Mayor how more help is needed to help ordinary Londoners like key workers get together and set up new housing co-ops. [3]

Her amendment therefore asks the Mayor to double his current plans for supporting community-led housing to £2 million per year, with the extra funding specifically to expand the reach of his work to a wider range of people and to help councils work more effectively on these new models of providing housing Londoners can afford.

Sian said:

“My amendments are about fairness and helping to build a better future for Londoners. These changes help plug gaps in stretched council budgets for youth services and also spread the reach of new community-led homes to a wider range of our citizens.

“When asked by the Mayor, young people have specifically asked for investment from him in youth clubs and services, and with more than 30 youth clubs closed in London since 2011, it’s critical that he steps in with help from his budget.

“Our teachers, emergency service workers and NHS staff are the ideal people to be getting together to form housing co-ops or community land trusts. The extra funding I’ve proposed within the Mayor’s housing budget would involve more Londoners in these plans and enable his team act as an effective hub to help councils co-ordinate their work on this vital new idea.”

Notes to editors

References:

[1] This amount of council tax increase is available to the Mayor, as he has so far only increased the police part of the council tax precept by 2%, leaving a further 2% that could be added to the remaining precept under Government rules. The cost to the average Band D home would be £1.49 per year, less than the price of a bus fare.

[2] ‘London’s lost youth services’ report by Sian Berry, January 2017 https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/london_lost_youth_services_sian_berry_jan2017.pdf

[3] Transcript of question to the Mayor on housing co-ops, December 2016. (from p10) https://www.london.gov.uk/moderngov/documents/s61369/Draft%20Transcript%20of%20Item%204-%20Questions%20to%20the%20Mayor.pdf

Amendment in full: https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/green_amendment_a.pdf