As Mayor of London Boris Johnson presents the 2012/13 Greater London Authority budget to the London Assembly, Darren Johnson sets out the Green Party’s alternative.
Londoners face high unemployment, falling real incomes, rising inequality, widespread cuts to public services (including cuts in government grants for policing and transport), soaring rents and fares, as well as environmental problems such as dangerous air pollution and cold homes.
The Green budget tackles these problems head on.
- It helps low income Londoners, and reduces inequality
- It protects and improves key services, including safer neighbourhood policing, public transport and cycling infrastructure
- It delivers warm energy efficient homes and cleaner air
- It keeps the council tax the same, reduces the fare rise, and raises extra money from motorists.
The Mayor’s budget for 2012/13 relies on an above inflation fare rise of 5.6% which will hit poorer Londoners hardest. We will bring down the fare rise below inflation, saving a typical household about £40 a year. Instead we will raise more from motorists, increasing the standard congestion charge to £16 and the charge for large gas guzzlers to £40. We will introduce a congestion charge zone around the heavily congested and polluted Heathrow area.
For the future we want to look at alternative sources of income to replace above inflation fare rises, and the current congestion charge.
Our budget provides funds for a feasibility study of a fairer “pay-as-you-go” road pricing scheme, which would charge a rate per mile driven, with higher charges for more congested roads and times of day. This could provide a significant new income stream of around £1b a year, with cuts to fares ensuring it will be financially neutral for a typical household, and substantially less congested roads with cleaner air through out London.
The Green budget will provide more, and better quality, apprenticeships for the under 25s, a boost for community housing schemes, and a new London Fairness Commission to engage with London’s largest employers to rein in runaway pay inequality. Very high pay in the GLA group will be cut back too, both to reduce inequality and to save money.
Our police budget does not change the total amount of money but it does change priorities. We provide more resources for safer neighbourhood policing, road safety, and preventative work with young people and gangs. We are able to achieve this partly through employing (usually cheaper) civilian staff wherever they can do the work as well or better than a warranted officer. Success should be measured by results not by uniformed officer numbers.
Our transport budget puts an extra £35m into measures to make cycling a safe and pleasant option for many more Londoners. This money will be spent on delivering a safe and continuous pan-London cycle network, redesigning junctions and roundabouts for cyclists and pedestrians, off road routes, and clear signage. Our budget also accelerates the current programme to make all bus stops accessible.
The Green budget guarantees the £17.5m needed to provide energy efficiency measures in 145,000 more homes, to reach the Mayor’s 200,000 target by the end 2012, and keep his climate change plans on track. Insulating London’s draughty homes will also save a typical household at least £154 a year and improve their housing conditions.
London’s serious air pollution problem needs radical measures and proper investment. This is provided by the Green budget, which will fund the introduction of a Very Low Emission Zone in central London where only clean vehicles are allowed, replace an additional 100 standard buses with cleaner hybrid models, and help taxi owners replace polluting vehicles.
Without increasing the council tax, the Green budget radically recasts priorities to make real progress in tackling some of London’s most long-standing problems.