Sadiq Khan has confirmed he’ll increase his share of the Council Tax by 27p per week to raise more money for the London Fire Brigade and Metropolitan Police.
The rise will see bills rise by £14.20 a year, taking City Hall’s share of the council tax on an average Band D property from £280.02 to £294.22.
Mr Khan is taking advantage of a Government decision to allow Mayors and Police and Crime Commissioners to raise £270m nationally through a precept on bills.
The decision, announced earlier this week, follows months of lobbying for extra funding but requires politicians to raise the money locally rather than, as City Hall had hoped, central government increasing its grant funding.
Despite previously arguing for greater tax raising powers, Mr Khan has branded the government’s move “regressive and unfair”.
Today he said: “The Government has refused to back the Metropolitan Police or the London Fire Brigade with the money they need and so I have been left with no choice but to propose increasing council tax to protect our city from the threats that we face.
“I’m sensitive to the fact that council tax is a regressive form of taxation – as it hits those who can least afford to pay it the hardest, so this is certainly not a decision I take lightly.”
“Ministers should hang their heads in shame at their abject failure to protect Londoners by adequately funding our police and fire service and for leaving it to taxpayers here in London to help to bridge the gap.”
Over recent months the Mayor has engaged in a high profile PR war with ministers, warning of a dramatic fall in police officer numbers unless extra government funding was provided.
However, in a Commons debate on Tuesday, policing minister Nick Hurd told MPs that the Met was “the best resourced police force in the country” and “has the resources it needs.”
He added: “If the Mayor, as the policing and crime commissioner, disagrees with that, he has his own resources to contribute as well, which he has been very reluctant to do.”
Hurd also called on the Mayor to stop “sitting in his bunker writing letters asking for more money” and to take advantage of “the opportunities for greater efficiency” which will help the Met balance its books.
Commenting earlier this week, Liberal Democrat London Assembly, Member Caroline Pidgeon said: “No one likes to pay more in tax but a pound a month extra is a price worth paying to help tackle the rising tide of crime and to keep Londoners’ safe.”
“Just for once the Mayor should recognise that the funding of the Met is a responsibility that he shares with the Home Office and he needs to put his hand in his pocket too.”
Conservative London Assembly member Gareth Bacon said: “It is logical for the Mayor to use the additional tax raising powers given to him by the government to provide more funding for the Metropolitan Police – that is, after all, why the government announced them this week.
“However, the Mayor knows full well that the Fire Brigade does not require additional funding.
“No fewer than three reviews commissioned by him since he became Mayor have told him so, and he accepted the findings of those reviews in full.
“If he feels the Fire Brigade needs additional equipment, he has the means to provide it from without taking money from the Metropolitan Police.
“Yet again, he is grandstanding for his own political benefit.”