Spring Statement fails to rise to the challenge facing Britain
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, today said the Government had ‘failed to rise to the challenges facing Britain over the uncertain year ahead’, as the UK edges ever closer to leaving the European Union.
The Mayor criticised the Government for ‘failing to take the bold action we so clearly need to protect jobs, prosperity and public services from the massive uncertainty which is coming.’
He cautiously welcomed an extra £1.67bn of investment in genuinely affordable homes in London, but criticised the 18-month delay in agreeing London's share since some of the funding was first announced by the Government, and warned annual funding levels were still less than half of the levels the Government inherited in 2010.
Sadiq has secured new investment in housing to deliver 26,000 new genuinely affordable homes. Crucially he has won agreement from ministers that at least two-thirds of the additional homes will be for rent, and that these rents can be based on social rent levels.
Combined with the Mayor's previous deal with Government, the new funding deal expects nearly 100,000 new affordable homes to be underway by 2021. Sadiq has consistently said that London needs more homes for social rent, and far more investment in genuinely affordable homes. These homes are especially needed given the former Mayor, Boris Johnson, allowed his funding for social rented homes to fall to zero, and the number of affordable homes being built in the capital to fall to just 13 per cent of overall planning permissions. And this was with a discredited definition of what qualified as an affordable home.
The additional funding today still does not go anywhere near far enough towards matching the scale of the challenge. Current Government funding for affordable homes in London is still well less than half the amount spent in 2009-10, and approximately a quarter of the £2.7 billion a year that City Hall estimates would be actually needed to meet London’s housing need.
There was no additional funding for policing – or preventative services that provide an alternative path away from crime - at a time of increasing crime across the UK. In his own budget earlier this month, the Mayor committed an extra £110 million to the police to support an additional 1,000 officers than there would otherwise have been from 2019-20 onwards, and an extra £45 million to support young Londoners in the capital.
The Government is still blocking London from accessing funding to tackle and mitigate air pollution – despite 40 per cent of roads affected being in London.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Today’s Spring Statement was an opportunity for the Government to show that they understand the needs of London and the entire country – but sadly they have failed to rise to the challenges facing Britain over the uncertain year ahead.
“While I cautiously welcome the extra investment in genuinely affordable homes, the Government has failed to take the bold action we so clearly need to protect jobs, prosperity and public services from the massive uncertainty which is coming.
“The housing crisis is the capital’s biggest challenge and we are still not seeing the level of investment that we need if we want to tackle it head on. We still need more and devolved investment, we need an overhaul of powers to assemble unused land for homes, and we need councils and City Hall to be freed to build many more affordable homes ourselves.
“There was no additional investment for the Metropolitan Police who have been hit with draconian budget cuts year on year. Today is a further sign that when it comes to the safety of Londoners, this Government is falling short of the mark. I have already been forced to stump up an additional £110 million in the next year for the Met – money that the Government refuses to invest.
“There was also no further commitment from Government to clean up our toxic air – and Londoners will be staggered that we are not able to access Government funding to tackle and mitigate air pollution – when the capital is so badly affected.”
The Mayor’s recent Budget included a total of an additional £110 million policing investment, meaning City Hall is paying a greater percentage of the overall police budget in the capital than ever before – up from 18 per cent in 2010 to 23 per cent today, pushing the burden for policing the capital city away from general taxation and onto hard-pressed Londoners.
Since 2010-11, the Met’s general grant funding from the Government has fallen by more than £700 million, or nearly 40 per cent in real terms, on a like-for-like basis. In recent years, the Met Police have had to find roughly £600m of savings and the Mayor has found a further £150million of savings since he took office.
This has led to the loss of a third of police staff posts, which are down from 14,330 to 9,985, as well as two-thirds of police community support officer (PSCO) posts, which are down from 4,607 to 1,591. In addition, there are now 114 fewer police station front counters and 120 fewer police buildings.