Pledge on job creation

MQT on 2013-07-17
Session date: 
July 17, 2013
Question By: 
Fiona Twycross
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


You pledged in your 2012 manifesto that you would create 200,000 jobs directly through City Hall programmes. Exactly how many of these jobs have you created so far?


Answer for Pledge on job creation

Answer for Pledge on job creation

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Yes, thank you. Fiona, I think this question was put to my Deputy Mayor for Business and Enterprise, Kit Malthouse, last week in the Economy Committee. I cannot really give much more than he said then, which is the figures are still being collated but we are very confident, cautiously confident I am told, that we are going to exceed the original target quite substantially.

Fiona Twycross (AM): That would indeed be very welcome, but I just wanted to bring to your attention that there is a massive discrepancy between the rash promises you made during the election campaign and the figures provided by your staff in GLA Economics. I look forward to seeing how many more people will be in work in May 2016 and hope that you can report back as soon as possible about exactly how many jobs will be created as a direct result of your pledge, because from the sums in your manifesto you have pledged to create at least 131,000 jobs in construction alone. I just wanted to ask you your view on the figures given by GLA Economics, who presumably know what they are talking about, who say that by 2015 just 5,000 new construction jobs would have been created, and even allowing for the double, treble, even quadruple counting of short-term construction jobs, I just wanted to check which figure you thought was accurate and which figure we should believe?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): As I say, we think we are going to beat the 200,000 figure very substantially, or reasonably substantially, and I would just point out that what is actually happening in employment in London is very encouraging at the moment. Yes, we still have a big problem with youth unemployment, we need to tackle that, but the jobless figures, or rather the proportion of people in employment is at a record high of 70.3%, I think from the last figures I saw, and the number of people in work has gone up since last year by about 108,000. That is, in my view, a sign of an economy that is on the road to recovery in London and when you look at the schemes that I think are identified in that list, if you look at the way those projects, Crossrail, the tube upgrades, the housing programme, the way they are getting on, I can see why my officials are confident that we are going to do more than 200,000 jobs.

Fiona Twycross (AM): There are still some slight discrepancies in the figures, which I hope you can clarify at some point.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I will do that.

Fiona Twycross (AM): The job situation is still lagging behind other parts of Britain and one of the reasons this might be is because small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) are finding it hard to get credit. They find it significantly harder than small and medium-sized enterprises in other parts of the country to access credit with only 5% of SMEs in London reporting credit to be affordable. During the 2012 election you pledged to put £35 million into a small-business lending scheme and in May you announced a scheme with £25 million of funding. I just wondered if you could comment on why the reality of your actions has not met the commitments made in your manifesto?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): So we are £10 million short? I will find out. I cannot give you the answer here and now. I am sure there is a perfectly good explanation for that and we will make sure we get the answer to you.

Fiona Twycross (AM): OK, good, thank you. Again, your manifesto claimed that 500 companies would benefit from this scheme and bids for funding closed in July and, as we heard earlier this month at the Economy Committee, only two or three bids have been received in this first round. Given my earlier comments that only 5% of SMEs in London say credit is affordable, I just wondered if you could comment why only two or three SMEs might be applying for this funding, which seems to be desperately needed, and why this scheme is apparently failing to get off the ground?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Again, some of these things do take time, you have to make sure I will give you a general answer and I will make sure I write back to you with further details, Fiona. But the general answer is that you have to make sure that when you are providing this kind of funding, which is taxpayers' money, that you are doing it in a scrupulous way and that the people who are invited to bid and who are bidding have a genuinely good business case and you are not just chucking money away.

Fiona Twycross (AM): Yes, but this is bids received, this is not bids accepted, so I think that there is clearly some sort of logjam around this. It would be good if you could look into exactly why this scheme appears to be failing.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I do not think it is failing. What I would accept is that when you are spending public money on private enterprises, which is what you are talking about, you have to be very careful that you are not just pouring it into the pockets of people who are not actually using it to generate jobs and growth in London but simply to enrich themselves or whatever.

Fiona Twycross (AM): Two or three bids appears to be far short of

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Those are the bids to run the operation.

Fiona Twycross (AM): OK, so when will actual bids come in and how many?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I will give you a full breakdown on that scheme when I have the details at my fingertips, I do not have them here, but my general position is you have to be very cautious in how you spend taxpayers' money. There are abundant examples in the last ten years, shall we say, of this body firing money around and it being completely wasted, and we cannot have that.

Fiona Twycross (AM): OK, thank you.