Mayor: Key concerns must not be ignored in Spring Statement
- Mayor calls for more investment in policing, air quality and affordable housing
- Fears that Government is ignoring major challenges because of Brexit paralysis
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, today calls on the Government to use the Spring Statement to reverse the cuts of the past decade and take the action required to address the biggest challenges facing London, despite the ongoing chaos of Brexit.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, will deliver his Spring Statement later today and the Mayor is calling on him to properly resource the Metropolitan Police and reverse wider cuts to local services and youth services that have contributed to the rise in violent crime.
The Mayor also wants the Chancellor to improve air quality by following London’s lead and funding a national vehicle scrappage scheme – as well as to back schemes that would deliver thousands of genuinely affordable homes across the capital.
However, with the Government currently in near paralysis as a result of Brexit, the Mayor is deeply concerned that today’s Spring Statement will be an opportunity missed to tackle crucial challenges in London and across the UK.
Recent research by the Centre for Cities showed that London has shouldered almost one third of cuts to local government since 2010. Meanwhile, the capital has been excluded from several recent Government initiatives, including the Clean Air Fund and the recently announced Stronger Towns Fund that would have increased productivity and prosperity.
The Government has already forced the Met to make £850 million of cuts and it still has to make cuts of £263 million by 2022/23, resulting in officer numbers dropping to below 30,000 for the first time in more than a decade.
Sadiq has allocated record extra resources from council tax and business rates for policing and tackling crime. Yet despite this investment, it is simply not possible for City Hall to compensate for the scale of the cuts the police in London have faced.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The Government cannot ignore the key challenges facing London and the UK because of the chaos of Brexit.
“We desperately need to see Government action on policing, air quality and affordable housing.
“Cuts have consequences and the Government needs to urgently increase investment in order to tackle these challenges. The Chancellor must not miss his opportunity to act in the Spring Statement today.”
Sadiq is taking firm action to tackle London’s air pollution, which is contributing to thousands of premature deaths each year. Next month he will launch the world’s first 24-hour, seven-days-a-week Ultra Low Emission Zone in central London and has also made new spending available to help motorists on low incomes, as well as micro-businesses and charities, to scrap their older, more polluting vehicles.
The Mayor wants Government to match his commitment to tackle the health crisis and social injustice caused by air pollution, by launching a national vehicle scrappage scheme to help those who bought diesel cars in good faith following advice from previous governments. At the very least, he wants Government to match the fund the £48 million that he is making available for a scrappage scheme.
The Mayor also wants Government to increase investment in genuinely affordable housing deliver in London. City Hall research shows that the true cost of meeting affordable housing targets requires a £2.7 billion a year affordable housing investment – more than five times current spending. In particular, the Mayor wants the Chancellor to confirm Housing Infrastructure Funding of £250 million to the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation and release previously allocated funding for new homes along the route of the Docklands Light Railway.
Last week, the Mayor and Cllr Peter John, Chair of London Councils, wrote to Government with concerns that the Stronger Towns Fund appears to favour Brexit-supporting areas. In their letter to James Brokenshire MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, they also expressed concerns that this approach sets a worrying precedent for the allocation of post-Brexit domestic funds.