Government must support London’s transport network for good of the UK
London’s Deputy Mayor for Transport will tonight launch a strong attack on the Government for abandoning the capital’s transport network and call on the Chancellor to reinstate London’s vital transport funding.
Val Shawcross will say it is astounding that London is one of the only major cities in the world with a public transport and road network that doesn't receive Government funding to support its operating costs.
TfL’s budget is £700m a year lower after the Government’s decision in 2015 to remove the operating grant. The previous Mayor failed to defend London’s transport subsidy when the Government decided to withdraw it, despite knowing how important the success of London is to the rest of the UK.
In a further blow to the capital’s transport network, the Government has also unfairly announced that, from 2021, the £500m raised every year through Londoners’ Vehicle Excise Duty will only be invested in roads outside the capital. Unbelievably, this means that Londoners are paying for roads across the UK with absolutely no contribution towards the upkeep of the roads they are driving on. It has also shamefully blocked the capital from accessing the new £220m National Clean Air Fund.
Ultimately this means that the costs of running London’s roads are being subsidised from public transport farepayers.
Despite the government’s cuts, the Mayor and Transport for London have gripped the finances and are protecting both frontline services and the massive investment needed to modernise the transport network. To achieve this, the Mayor instigated the biggest ever overhaul of TfL, which is reducing the organisation’s operating costs for the first time in its history, with a £153m reduction last year alone.
But there are obvious consequences of a £700m per year reduction in government funding. This significant budget reduction means that all non-essential road improvements have been paused for two years unless suitable funding can be found. So while TfL will ensure roads are kept safe, this lack of proactive work could lead to an increase in disruption on the roads with increased closures and speed, size and weight restrictions.
Speaking tonight at the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) urban transport committee at City Hall, Val Shawcross will call on the Government to use its Spring Statement next month to reinstate the TfL’s grant for the good of the whole of the UK.
Deputy Mayor of London for Transport, Val Shawcross, said: “With the economic uncertainty of Brexit, it’s more important than ever that the Government supports our capital - because when London succeeds, the country succeeds.
“Our capital is the beating heart of the UK and our roads are the arteries, so it’s just astounding that the Government is not only prepared to take away vital funding but make London’s drivers pay for roads outside the capital.
“We’ve seen from the success of the Crossrail project how investment in London can benefit the whole of the country, and it’s vital that the Government uses its spring Statement next month to reinstate TfL’s funding and keep the capital moving.”
TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, said: "Our union launched a campaign to restore TfL's operating grant when it was abolished by then Chancellor George Osborne with the support of then Mayor of London Boris Johnson. Sadly, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has seen the last 16 months ignoring our request to put money back into TfL. Londoners are now already paying the heavy price for his inaction.
"The International Transport Workers Federation Urban Transport Conference, now being held in London, is serving as a painful reminder, that London stands alone as the only major international city to run its public transport without a subsidy. Ultimately this will hurt passengers, businesses and the environment.
"Our union submitted a motion asking for support in fighting to restore the grant which George Osborne stole from Londoners. Thankfully, this was overwhelmingly supported. We are therefore completely delighted that London's Mayor, Sadiq Khan, and his team are now taking up the lead on this campaign and together we will work to get London Transport's public funding restored."
Notes to editors
- In 2014/15 TfL received an operating grant of £842m – which made up 12 per cent of its revenue. For the coming budget year, 2018/19, this operating grant has been completely withdrawn. This will be see a £700m per year cut in Government funding over five years
- It was not until the Mayor’s TfL business plan in December 2016 that TfL had a comprehensive plan to return to financial sustainability while making London a fairer, greener, healthier and more prosperous city. This has seen TfL reduce operating costs by £153m in the last financial year and TfL is ahead of this year’s saving targets by £194m.
- Investment on transport in London is beneficial to the entire UK. Transport for London estimates that around 60 per cent of the money it spends on goods and services occurs outside of London and helps support 50,000 jobs. The opening of the Elizabeth line is adding an estimated £42bn to the UK economy