City Hall finance boss: Late Autumn Statement to curtail budget scrutiny

AMs will have less time to scrutinise next year’s budget. Image: MayorWatch

London Assembly Members could have less time than expected to scrutinise Boris Johnson’s 2013/14 budget, a senior City Hall official has warned.

Although some of the Mayor’s budget is generated within the Greater London Authority, including via a precept on the Council Tax, much of it comes from grants provided by the UK government.

In a letter to Assembly Chair Jennette Arnold, City Hall finance Director Martin Clarke says Chancellor George Osborne’s decision to hold his Autumn Statement on December 5th means the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) will be unable to indicate the level of London’s grant “until some time after that date”.

This means the Mayor’s draft consultation budget is likely to be published later than the expected date of December 17th, providing Assembly Members with little time to consider it before their meeting on January 3rd.

Mr Clarke also suggests the grant level may not be fully determined until “early February and not some time in January as is usually the case.”

He says this raises concerns about his staff’s ability to ensure AMs have adequate information ahead of further budget scrutiny meetings due to be held on January 30th and February 13th.

Clarke says he has alerted DCLG officials to the adverse impact on the scrutiny process caused by a late grant announcement and has requested a meeting with Arnold and fellow AM John Biggs, Chair of the Budget and Performance Committee to discuss “the best way forward”.