Boris Johnson yesterday published his first Greater London Authority budget since taking office in May. The draft budget covers spending by the GLA’s functional bodies, including the Fire Brigade and Met Police, for the financial year 2009/10 and is published for public consultation.
The £3,200m budget develops on spending promises announced over the past six months and includes Mayor Johnson’s previously announced savings on publicity and staff roles. Savings have also been made by eliminating inflation from project budgets.
Johnson is keen to push the message that the GLA’s Council tax precept which funds some of the budget is remaining unchanged form last year, the first time this has happened since the Authority came into being in 2000.
The Mayor said: “With these budget plans we have made over £100 million of efficiency savings, so that we are able to freeze the GLA precept at the same time as putting 500 extra police on the streets, which is something that has never been done before. I am confident that we can continue to deliver more services for less, to help hard-pressed Londoners make ends meet.”
Critics point out that Johnson is presiding over an above inflation fare increase, needed in part to fund the continuation of half price fares Income Support recipients after Johnson scrapped a funding deal with Venezuela.
Speaking at Mayor’s Question Time last month, Green Party Assembly Member Jenny Jones accused the Mayor of being dishonest with Londoners over the true cost of his administration.
Liberal Democrat Assembly Member Mike Tuffrey said on Thursday: “A zero rise in the GLA’s precept from next April will be welcomed by many Londoners, but let is not forget that from January all of us who use pubic transport in the capital will be paying fares that rise by twice the rate of inflation.”
Some of the Mayor’s claimed £104 million efficiency savings, including increased “commercial targets“ for the letting of City Hall’s London’s Living Room and unspecified savings in the Met Police budget are currently only projections.
Tuffrey commented: “The budget Boris Johnson is proposing makes several large assumptions, including that the Met Police will be able to make large savings in their budget, a number of which have yet to be revealed, when they haven’t been able to meet all the savings for this financial year yet.”
Members of the public wishing to comment on the budget can do so online at www.london.gov.uk