Central Government Funding (Supplementary) [22]

Session date: 
June 18, 2003
Question By: 
Eric Ollerenshaw
Organisation: 
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

But you have already lost some transport grant this year and your very argument about the £1.5 billion. Is that not why Ministers (and we would be interested to know which Ministers you have been lobbying on this) will turn round and say they have given enough already; they are already committing themselves to the Olympics so why should they commit to all these endless other schemes when, presumably, as I said, the rest of the United Kingdom also has a whole wish list of schemes. Moreover, given the problems, Gordon Brown probably could not finance it anyway. Plus there is the Government going into a general election when I assume, unless I am totally mistaken, that he will also want to run down the Ken Livingstone line and keep lower tax increases that year to masquerade the electorate on low taxation.

So, in the midst of all that, how can you conceive that it is actually possible and probably and, therefore, if you are a prudent Mayor bound by prudent finances should you not be looking at what is happening next year in terms of your budget to start stacking up some money then. The only way to do that is also to increase the Council Tax precept. So you are strapped either way: it is a large increase next year which you are trying to avoid for election purposes; or it is massive Council Tax increases the following year. There is no way out. Should you not be honest now with Londoners and tell them that?

Supplementary To: 

Answer

Answer for Central Government Funding (Supplementary) [22]

Answer for Central Government Funding (Supplementary) [22]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

That would be the case if we were still stuck with the £2.5 billion Government grant that we had three years ago. But over three years it has gone up an average of £500 million extra for funding our services. I am the first to complain about the Government. I think it has been appallingly long and drawn out coming to key decisions on things like Crossrail; it has not given me as much as I would have liked. But you cannot ignore the reality that since this body was created we have upped the grant from £2.5 billion to £4 billion, and that is a vast sum of money. If we could actually maintain that progress over another four years we will not have to face huge problems.

The Government recognises this. I never meet any Minister without lobbying them, so everyone I have met for the last three years finds all I do is go on about more powers and more money and they get sick of it. But they recognise there would be a painful political price to pay with so many marginal Labour seats in this city if at the next general election there were painful cuts in bus services, or we had to put on hold the expansion of the police force. Those things would be a gift to you and your lot in the national Tory Party. So I am optimistic that we will concentrate the Government's mind on London's needs over the next 18 months.