Transport Minister Sadiq Khan has dismissed concerns that London may suffer from proposed cuts in Government funding for concessionary travel.
As recently reported, Ministers have announced a consultation on plans to alter an existing three-year funding agreement.
The move has been condemned by the pan-London body London Councils which administers the Freedom Pass scheme and London politicians including Caroline Pidgeon, Liberal Democrat Transport spokesperson and chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee.
In a letter sent to Pidgeon in her capacity as Chair of the Assembly Transport Committee, Khan says he has decided to re-open the agreement because “it has become clear to me that there are some authorities across the country who are experiencing shortfalls in funding from the current distribution”.
The Minister says a comparison of expenditure in 2007/09 and 2008/09 has allowed officials “to estimate where there might be funding shortfalls and where some authorities might have been receiving excessive grant.”
Khan adds that “30 authorities…may have a genuine case for concern” over the level of funding the Government gives them and claims “there is evidence that some authorities, including London, may have received significantly more than required”.
The letter says Ministers are not looking to reclaim grants paid in 2008/09 or 2009/10 and says authorities which see a reduction in 2010/11 “will have already benefitted from two years of receiving more funding than was required.”
Khan also says London and other apparently overpaid authorities will be able “to retain over half of the surplus grant that we estimate they would receive under the 2010/11 distribution”, a move the Minister says will make such authorities “comparatively better off” then those who receive an increase under proposed revisions.
Khan says the capital would receive “significantly” more funding than the actual burden of “around £30 million against a likely cost of around £10 million”.
Last week Councillor Merrick Cockell, Chair London Councils warned that “Boroughs have already budgeted for this funding and now London is facing having the amount of funding it was promised almost halved. Under this funding regime London is already disadvantaged, compared to other parts of England, and today’s decision could impact on the services boroughs provide.”
Pidgeon, also commenting last week, described plans to alter the funding agreement as “a double whammy” following Boris Johnson’s recent fares increase.