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The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has today accused the Government of ‘imposing a new era of austerity on public services at the worst possible time.’

Sadiq has committed to building a better London in the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis, but argues that he is being forced to do so ‘with one arm tied behind my back’ as the Government refuses to fund the capital adequately.

Last year, the Mayor revealed that the Greater London Authority (GLA) Group is forecast to lose £493m in council tax and business rates income over the next two years.

Speaking at a Budget Plenary of the London Assembly today, Sadiq will reassure Londoners that he is doing everything in his power to support London’s recovery from the pandemic and to mitigate against further cuts by the Government. 

However, Sadiq has repeatedly warned that unless the Government urgently comes forward with a significant financial package, major cuts will be inevitable across all Mayoral organisations. These cuts would damage public services and significantly hamper London’s ability to drive the economic recovery that is desperately needed.

The Mayor’s draft Budget for 2021-22 sets out how the GLA Group will need to make £325m of these savings in the next financial year based on the current ‘reasonable worst-case’ estimate.

Today, the Mayor has highlighted that: 

  • To date the GLA Group, including the Metropolitan Police Service and the London Fire Brigade, has spent £84.7m to support Londoners through the pandemic that have not been covered by the Government’s various funding initiatives - a figure that is likely to increase during the current lockdown. The GLA, along with Mayoral Combined Authorities, was excluded from the two most recent tranches of the Government’s Covid-19 support funding, and no rationale was provided for this decision. 


  • According to the Home Office’s own review, the Metropolitan Police faces an annual £159m shortfall in funding from the National, International and Capital City (NICC) grant, which provides additional costs that come with policing the capital, including diplomatic protection, as well as  policing major events such as protests, concerts, football matches and state visits. The Met spends £346m a year on this work but the Government only funds £185m
  • Transport for London has faced huge financial uncertainty as ridership has plummeted as a result of Covid-19, especially with fares making up over 70 per cent of its operating budget pre-pandemic. The emergency funding deal made with the Government in October will only keep services running until March, yet our city’s public transport network is central not only to the success of the capital but the whole of the country. 


  • The Government has given no indication that the retail, hospitality and leisure business rates relief scheme will continue beyond the end of March. These schemes are worth £3 billion to London businesses and provide certainty of income to the Mayor and local councils.


The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan is expected to say at today’s meeting: “We have an obligation to build a better London in the aftermath of this crisis - And this is exactly what this Budget is going to help deliver. 

“Unfortunately, we’re being forced to work with one hand tied behind our back because the Government is still refusing to fully refund the GLA and Mayoral bodies for the money we’ve spent on responding to the pandemic – and the income we’re losing as a result of falling tax revenues. 

“In effect, this means that the Government is imposing a new era of austerity on public services across our city at the worst possible time.

“As Mayor, I’ll continue to stand up to Ministers for punishing Londoners for doing the right thing during this pandemic and work towards that better, greener, more equal future for our city that we all want and desire.

“Because I’m convinced that – if we take the right decisions now – it’s possible for London to be a fairer, stronger and more prosperous place after this pandemic than it was before.”

Sadiq’s top priority is the safety of Londoners and he is particularly concerned about the potential impact of Government underfunding on policing and crime. He is doing all he can to protect the Met from the worst effects of Government austerity by using reserves that he has prudently established to support frontline policing. 

In December he announced that he is providing additional funding from City Hall to protect frontline policing next year, and help plug some of the financial gap caused by Covid-19. However, there remains a funding gap for 2022-23, caused in part by the Government not funding the additional police officers that he and the Commissioner of Police agree London needs.

Sadiq is doing everything he can to protect frontline services. He has taken the difficult decision to relocate City Hall to a new permanent home at the Royal Docks – which will save £61 million pounds over the next five years. He has also taken a ten per cent pay cut, declined a pension and frozen pay for all Mayoral Appointments in his senior team.

The new era of austerity from the Government has left the Mayor with no option but to propose an increase in his share of council tax by an average of £2.63 a month from this April. This will help to pay for policing, as well as the London Fire Brigade and public transport concessions for under-18s and over-60 year olds, as required by the Government in exchange for the funding needed to keep TfL services in operation. 

This is a proposed increase of 9.5 per cent - less than half the 21 per cent increase his political opponents were telling Londoners to expect.

Photo by Shayan Barjesteh van Waalwijk van Doorn, Wikimedia commons.