Boris Johnson has published his draft budget for 2010/11 which will see a zero increase in the GLA’s share of the council tax for the second year, but with Londoners facing large fare increases opposition politicians have accused the Mayor of a financial sleight of hand.
The budget has been published for consultation and is available on the Greater London Authority website. Members of the public wishing to make comment can do so until 11th January 2010.
Publishing the budget on Thursday Johnson said: “When there is less money in people’s pockets, it is vital we do all we can to protect Londoners from excessive tax increases, while improving public services and continuing the investment London needs to beat this recession.”
“We are ensuring value for money and cutting waste, while continuing to protect key services, such as helping Londoners through the economic downturn, delivering vital transport improvement and providing opportunities for young people.”
City Hall says it has identified “over half a billion pounds of additional savings next year and a total of £2.4 billion over the next three years in recognition of the severe public spending constraints facing the country and the Mayor’s commitment to helping meet this challenge.”
According to official figures 70 per cent of the GLA’s council tax precept will be spent on policing.
Mike Tuffrey, leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group, dismissed Johnson’s claims of helping Londoners, saying: “The Mayor’s claim that he is cutting bills for Londoners has a hollow ring when one remembers that for two years in a row he has hiked up fares far in excess of inflation.”
“For most Londoners the Mayor’s outrageous hike in tube and bus fares far exceeds any savings they will see from the freezing of his share of council tax bills. Boris Johnson’s overall bill for Londoners just keeps going up.”
Green Party AM Darren Johnson commented: “The Mayor’s draft budget will mean less money raised from car drivers, whilst public transport users are paying more. I want to see the Mayor protecting the poorest Londoners by freezing bus fares and making those who pollute more, pay more.”
“The Mayor claims that he will have to increase bus fares whilst cutting bus services in order to fill a financial black hole, but a large part the deficit is paying for vanity projects like scrapping bendy buses and dropping charges designed to discourage polluting cars.”
Mr Johnson also called on the Mayor to go “much further in cutting the enormous amount of waste in the police budget, especially staff overtime, non operational cars and drivers and money spent on flights and hotels.”