Mayor Sadiq Khan has confirmed an additional £60m of annual funding for the Met but has warned the money can only be made available by spending less on transport and initiatives to boost London’s economic development.
The Mayor’s office says the money, which comes from City Hall’s share of Business Rates, will allow the force to fund “an extra 1,000 police officers than would otherwise be affordable.”
Government spending cuts means the Met has to make £400m of savings, on top of £600m already made in recent years. Mr Khan has claimed the cuts will see thousands of police officer posts lost.
Months of calls for additional Government funding were answered by ministers instead allowing the Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioners outside the capital to raise extra money via the council tax, a move described as “regressive” by Mr Khan.
However ministers have been clear that they believe the Met is “the best resourced police force in the country” and “has the resources it needs.”
In December Policing Minister Nick Hurd told MPs: “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 said the Mayor should 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.
Earlier this week City Hall and Scotland Yard announced that, on top of the latest wave of police station closures, they would go-ahead with a controversial plan to scrap the Met’s local borough-based command structure to help save cash.
Despite these measures and today’s extra cash, Mr Khan’s office claims there remains a risk that officer numbers could still fall below 30,000 in 2021.
Describing his reallocation of money as an “unusual step,” Mayor Khan said: “Following massive government cuts to police forces and preventative services over the course of nearly eight years, crime is rising across the country, particularly violent crime such as knife crime and robbery.
“I’m not willing to stand by when it’s the safety of Londoners being put at risk. So I’ve taken the decision to allocate the Met funding using money collected from business rates that would usually be spent on other important projects in London.”
London Assembly members have questioned the Mayor’s suggestion that using his discretion over how funds are allocated is in any way “unusual”.
Liberal Democrat Caroline Pidgeon said: “Despite his claims this is not an unusual decision for the Mayor of London to make. In fact last year I called on the Mayor to do everything within his powers to put extra cash into the Met. At last he has listened.
“Clearly funding of the Met is a responsibility that he shares with the Home Office.
“Further funding for the Met from central Government is desperately needed. The Mayor gets no credit for simply using funding powers which have long been open to him.”
Conservative policing spokesperson Steve O’Connell said: “The Mayor has insisted for 18 months he is doing all he can to support the Met – it is now clear that was not the case.
“With a £16billion budget at his disposal, Sadiq Khan has long had the resources to bolster police funding, so why did he not do this last year?
“No-one would argue against more money from central government, but Sadiq Khan must make the most of what is at his disposal.
“It may be no coincidence that, just as his approval ratings take a dip, he’s miraculously found some additional cash that previously wasn’t there.”