Mayor to propose 50p week council tax increase to fight violent crime
• Government’s failure to reverse £850 million of savings forces Sadiq to increase council tax in order to keep Londoners safe
• £6.8m to fund Mayor’s new Violence Reduction Unit
• Additional £95m committed next year to policing and tackling crime
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today announced that he will give a £6.8m boost to the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) as part of his expanded public-health approach to tackling all forms of violence in the capital.
Sadiq will also be using the full range of his powers to invest in the Metropolitan Police next year after the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, failed to give the force the funding he acknowledged it needs to keep Londoners safe.
In order to provide the Metropolitan Police with the necessary resources, the Mayor is proposing to increase his share of council tax by an average of 50p a week - the maximum amount allowed by the Government. In total, the Mayor proposes to commit an additional £95m next year to policing and tackling crime. This money will be raised from council tax and business rates.
Keeping Londoners safe is the Mayor’s top priority. The Government has already forced the Met to make £850m of cuts and despite last week’s police funding settlement, there remains a huge funding gap.
Sadiq’s proposal would see his share of council tax increase overall by 9 per cent or £26.28 a year in cash terms for an average Band D council tax payer.
After months of warm words from the Home Secretary, the government failed to back that up with action with real money in last week’s police funding settlement. Instead, Ministers shunted the cost of policing onto London council taxpayers, hitting the poorest hardest. It means the Mayor and other Police and Crime Commissioners across the country can now increase Band D Policing Precepts by a maximum of £24 a year before having to hold a council tax referendum.
Faced with little choice in order to give the Met the resources it requires, the Mayor is proposing to increase his share of council tax that goes directly to the police by the maximum amount that does not require a referendum. This is the equivalent of 46p a week – an 11 per cent increase in the policing precept.
This will generate an additional £84.8m to invest in the Met, which will be split between a number of crime fighting measures. This includes funding new officers, specialist investigators to disrupt gang violence and cutting-edge equipment for officers on the frontline, such as digital fingerprinting, rapid drug testing, technology to help with digital investigations, and advanced techniques to combat child sexual exploitation online. This will allow the Violent Crime Taskforce to be even more effective and visible on the streets and help tackle the crimes that impact most on the safety of Londoners.
Sadiq also intends to direct £6.8m from council tax and business rates to invest in a new Violence Reduction Unit. The Mayor announced the Violence Reduction Unit in September to expand his work on a public health approach to tackling all forms of violence. Using data to form a strong evidence base, the unit will use this money to identify where and how to make early interventions in a young person’s life as part of a long-term strategy to prevent the spread of violence.
This new investment – which is on top of an initial £500,000 the Mayor invested towards initial set-up costs, will be directed towards local services and programmes to provide greater capacity to deliver early interventions to help prevent the spread of violence, and supporting projects that will help tackle the complex root causes.
A further £3.5m will be spent on other anti-violence initiatives, for example making permanent the successful ‘Information Sharing to Tackle Violence’ pilot that develops more effective data sharing between Community Safety Partnerships, health services and other violence reduction partners. It uses a new approach to collect and analyse data from hospital emergency departments to help develop strategies to tackling violence.
The Mayor also intends to increase his non-policing precept by 2.99 per cent, again the maximum permitted by the Government. This is the equivalent of £2.28 a year or just over 4p a week. The proceeds of this modest increase will be allocated directly to the London Fire Brigade.
Overall, this means that the Mayor’s overall precept for an average Band D taxpayer will increase from £294.23 to £320.51.
Last year, Sadiq increased his overall share of council tax increase overall by 5.1 per cent or £14.20 a year in cash terms. This increase raised an additional £61m and allowed the Mayor to invest record sums into the Met and initiatives that prevent crime. This included:
• Establishing the Young Londoners Fund – the Mayor is investing £45m over three years to provide hundreds of activities across London to give young Londoners positive opportunities and prevent them from turning to a life of crime.
• Violence Reduction Unit – Sadiq is leading a public health approach to tackling the complex causes of violence which involves a major partnership with criminal justice agencies, health services, community groups and the police working together on prevention.
• The Violent Crime Taskforce – cracking down on violence a team of dedicated officers that have made more than 2,000 arrests and taken hundreds of dangerous weapons off London’s streets.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “My first responsibility is to keep Londoners safe. Over 70 per cent of the Met’s funding is controlled by the Government and Ministers have repeatedly refused to reverse the cuts they have made since 2010. As a result the Met has already had to make cuts of some £850m and I am furious that this is set to continue.
“I am concerned that the Government is continuing to shift the burden of police funding from Government grant to Council Tax – which is deeply regressive and hits the poorest the hardest.
“However, the brutal reality of the rise in violent crime and Government cuts means that I have little choice but to increase the policing element of the council tax by the maximum amount allowed by Ministers.
“Therefore, I am proposing to increase the Band D council tax precept by 50 pence a week – as allowed and encouraged by the Home Secretary. In total, I propose to commit an additional £95m next year to policing and tackling crime – more than twice as much as provided by the Government.
“Despite this, the reality of Government cuts means that the Met still has to make cuts of £263m by 2022-23. If these cuts were delivered through officer reductions, this is estimated to reduce the number of police officers from 31,000 to 28,215, a 15- year low. At a time when violent crime is rising across the country, this is a total abdication of the Government’s responsibility to public safety.”
These council tax proposals will be contained within the Mayor’s draft budget, which is published for consultation today. This budget sets out Sadiq’s plans to help ensure that all Londoners get the opportunities that the city gave to him.
The draft 2019/2020 budget covers the entire Greater London Authority Group – including Transport for London, the London Legacy Development Corporation, Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation, the Metropolitan Police service and the London Fire Brigade.
As reflected in TfL’s Business Plan earlier this month, the draft budget also takes into account the delay to the opening Crossrail and the need to find additional funding to complete the project. Its plans include:
• pushing ahead with the Mayor’s ambitious plans to make London a cleaner, safer, healthier city through investment to improve London’s streets and create better and more accessible public transport – at the same time as continuing to freeze public transport fares;
• The introduction of the Ultra Low Emission Zone in central London in April 2019 and a new diesel scrappage scheme supporting micro businesses to help tackle air pollution;
• continuing to tackle London’s housing crisis by supporting thousands of new homes for social rent as part of City Hall’s commitment to start at least 116,000 new genuinely affordable homes by 2022;
• maintaining funding to the London Fire Brigade in the aftermath of the terrible Grenfell Tower fire to ensure fire engines arrive at emergency incidents within targets;
• creating East Bank, an arts, cultural and educational district on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park site; and
• unlocking the first 10,000 homes and more than 5,500 jobs over the next 15 years at Old Oak Common.
A consultation document that sets out the Mayor’s proposals is available at: www.london.gov.uk/budget
The deadline for formal responses is 14 January 2018. Londoners can also find out more about the Budget and feed back via a quiz and a discussion on Talk London. The Budget is due to be considered by the London Assembly on 24 January and 25 February.
Notes to editors
An additional £3.5m from council tax and business rates will be allocated to the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime.
The GLA is to pay TfL up to £1.4 billion for Crossrail. TfL also have access to a further borrowing facility to cover any further costs and separately have to manage the revenue shortfall from the delay to Crossrail fares income of £600m over the next three years.
The Mayor’s council tax proposals include an overall 9 per cent increase to his total precept. All of the additional income raised as a result of this increase will go to the Metropolitan Police and the London Fire Brigade.
The Mayor of London’s 2019-20 draft Council Tax requirement is £962m – this being the total sum forecast to be collected from Londoners to fund GLA services. Under the proposal the total GLA precept will be increased from £294.23 to £320.51 a year (Band D household) for residents of the 32 boroughs – an overall increase of £26.28. All of this increase will be provided to the Metropolitan Police and the London Fire Brigade.
This equates to a Policing Precept increase from £218.13 to £242.13 and a non-Policing Precept from £76.10 to £78.38 a year.
Of the non-Policing precept, 2.99 per cent of the increase will go to London Fire Brigade but effectively one per cent will go to anti-violence measures by a reallocation of business rates from the Fire Brigade.
The Mayor’s proposed council tax precept comprises £726m to support the Metropolitan Police service, £159m for the London Fire Brigade and £77m for other services such as transport and the GLA itself.
The Mayor’s draft budget consists of allocations for - the Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime (Metropolitan Police), Transport for London, the London Fire Commissioner (London Fire Brigade), the London Legacy Development Company (Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park), the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation, the core Greater London Authority and the London Assembly.
The proposed total budget for the GLA Group for 2018-19 is £18.3bn. This comprises a revenue budget of £12bn and a draft capital spending plan of £6.3bn.
The consultation document, which outlines the Mayor’s proposals, will be circulated to all 32 London Borough Councils, the Corporation of London, key business representative bodies and other key stakeholders representing London’s wide range of interests.
The proposed changes to council tax are due to be confirmed at a meeting of the London Assembly on 25 February.