Members of the London Assembly have called on ministers to scrap the “unnecessary” Government Office for London, the body which aims to “speak up for London” in the development of central Government policy.
GoL was set up in 1994 when the capital had no central voice but despite devolution to the capital in 2000 the Government has kept GoL open at significant cost to the taxpayer. Last year the organisation incurred admin costs of more than £15m.
AMs today agreed a motion calling for the body to be “streamlined” and replaced with a new body which recognises the existence of London’s elected government.
The motion was proposed by London Assembly Chair and Green Party AM Darren Johnson who said “At a time when the Chancellor is scouring government spending for opportunities to halve the deficit, cutting the Government Office for London would be a good place to start. The establishment of democratic Londonwide government in 2000 should have sounded the death knell for GoL. It is now long past time this bureaucratic dinosaur was abolished.”
The full text of the motion reads as follows:
“This Assembly notes the success that the Government has experienced in streamlining the Scottish and Welsh Offices. It also notes that the administrative costs of the Government Office for London were over £15 million in 2008/9 and that many vital public services are now facing a severe squeeze on expenditure.
The Assembly calls on the Government to take steps to abolish GoL in its current form, to avoid duplication of activity, save money and improve accountability. The Assembly further calls on the Government to replace GoL with a small office, as in Scotland and Wales, that would be a conduit between London’s directly elected government and Whitehall departments, coordinating work between departments affecting London and providing oversight of public sector performance in the capital.”
Mike Tuffrey AM, who seconded today’s motion, said: “While we accept there is a case for a small office to liase between central government and London’s regional and local government there can be no excuse for continuing the wasteful duplication that GoL represents. When budgets for frontline services like policing and transport are under severe pressure there can be no justification for retaining this superfluous bureaucracy.”