Boris Johnson has been told “to be upfront with Londoners” about how he plans to deliver a promised cut in his share of the council tax.
While some of City Hall’s budget is provided by government grant, the Mayor levies a precept on council tax which helps fund policing, transport and the capital’s fire service.
The precept is set as part of the Mayor’s annual budget and will fall from £299 for a typical band D property to £295 in the 2015/16 financial year, and is expected to fall again next year to £276.
Speaking after his budget was passed unamended by the London Assembly, the Mayor yesterday claimed he was “bearing down on unnecessary costs in order to trim City Hall’s share of council tax for the fourth year, leading to an overall ten per cent cut over my second term of office.”
However next year’s projected fall is largely accounted for by the expiry of a special £20 per year Olympics surcharge which has been levied on London council tax payers since 2006 and was always due to end next year.
John Biggs, Labour’s budget spokesperson on the Assembly, said: “The time has come for the Mayor to be upfront with Londoners about how he plans to deliver the 10 per cent cut promised in his 2012 manifesto.
“The reality is, the Mayor lacks the courage of his convictions, with over half of the reduction actually achieved by phasing-out the Olympic precept, which was originally levied to help pay for the 2012 Games.”
Mr Biggs said he agreed with suggestions from business lobbyists London First and Transport for London’s consultants that there was a case for retaining the Olympic surcharge to help fund major infrastructure projects such as Crossrail 2.
He commented: “This issue properly belongs to the debates in the run-up to the 2016 Mayoral Election.
“Instead, the Mayor’s decision to use the Olympic precept to achieve his promised council tax cut risks undermining future investment in the house building and transport projects our capital so desperately needs.”