Khan slams government’s ‘deeply anti-London budget’

Mayor of London says the chancellor’s Autumn Statement “fell woefully short” of what is needed for the capital, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Jeremy Hunt delivers his Autumn Statement on Wednesday
Jeremy Hunt delivers his Autumn Statement on Wednesday

Sadiq Khan has slammed Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement as “another deeply anti-London budget”.

The Labour mayor had been hoping for funding for Transport for London (TfL), affordable housing and policing to be increased by particular amounts, but said the chancellor’s announcements “fell woefully short”.

The government says that the Autumn Statement is “aimed at building a stronger and more resilient economy” and is “a plan to unlock growth and productivity by boosting business investment by £20billion a year, getting more people into work, and cutting tax for 29 million workers – the biggest tax cut on work since the 1980s”.

But Khan said of the chancellor’s annoucements: “This Autumn Statement was an opportunity for the chancellor to recognise the important role that London plays in creating jobs and growth across the UK, while providing vital support to Londoners with the ongoing cost of living crisis. Instead, what we’ve seen is another deeply anti-London budget.

“Whether on TfL capital funding, desperately needed affordable housing or providing the Met Police with the funding it needs, today’s statement again fell woefully short.

“Londoners continue to suffer from higher prices at the shops, higher energy bills and soaring housing costs because of the government’s failure and mismanagement.

“The limited additional help being provided by ministers today is dwarfed by the deepening housing crisis affecting Londoners across our city.”

The mayor added: “The OBR today confirmed that economic growth across the country will be more sluggish than previously forecast.

“What the government needs to realise is that proper investment in London would not only help deliver more affordable housing, better transport, and vital services that Londoners need, but also help power our national recovery, generate prosperity, and speed up the growth of high-paid jobs.”

Meanwhile, London’s Conservative politicians praised Hunt’s announcements. Minister for London Greg Hands MP – who represents Chelsea and Fulham in parliament – said Hunt had announced “help for the least well off right the way across this Autumn Statement”, highlighting the uprating of working age benefits by 6.7% and the increased housing support for low income renters.

Harrow East MP Bob Blackman said he “strongly supports” the fact that the pensions ‘triple lock’ and Pension Credit will be protected and rise in April 2024 by 8.5%.

Posting on Twitter, Blackman wrote: “We must ensure that everyone has security and dignity in their retirement. Protecting the #triplelock will support many residents in #HarrowEast.”

It is understood that Khan had been hoping to see £569m in capital support for TfL in 2024/25 to pay for upgrades on the transport network, including for the continued manufacturing of the new fleet of Piccadilly Line trains.

He had also been hoping for a large uplift in government support to increase the city’s affordable housing supply, particularly on brownfield sites. At the start of this week, he requested £470m to “unlock or accelerate” the development of 76,000 new homes on brownfield land.

On policing, the mayor had been wanting to see a commitment from the government to fund the national and international Capital City Grant by £159m per year.

Members of other political parties in the capital were also critical of the Autumn Statement.

Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate Rob Blackie made similar remarks to the mayor, saying: “There is nothing in here for London. Our housing crisis remains unaddressed, growth prospects gloomy and our public services remain under strain.

“Talk of improving public sector productivity is meaningless without proper investment to make it happen.

“There are over 3,000 police officers that are stuck in the back office instead of serving on the frontline because the government refuses to fund Met Police staff.

“This was yet another missed opportunity to fix London’s broken public services.”

Green Party London Assembly member Siân Berry said the announcements consisted of “huge tax cuts, [and] huge new hoops to jump through for people who are out of work”.

She added that there was “no mention of resulting cuts in services – or extra pressure on local government and public sector workers – thanks to lost revenues. More Tory austerity.”

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