The big news was that police funding will be frozen, rather than cut, as some had expected. But what does this mean for the Met – and what about the rest of London’s services – including transport, housing and regeneration?
Billions of pounds will pass to the Mayor to spend on our tubes and buses, on keeping us safe on the streets, and on building homes and creating communities.
This year, as in all other years, the Mayor publishes a draft Budget, which is then scrutinised by the London Assembly, and changes are made to reflect what’s important to Londoners.
It’s one of the London Assembly’s most important roles – it ensures that your taxes are spent effectively and on the issues that are most important to you.
But this year’s Budget is going to be very different for a number of reasons. Personally it will be my final one as an Assembly member. During this time it’s become all the more clear to me that what the Mayor does, or indeed doesn’t do, has a big impact on my constituents in the City, Tower Hamlets, Barking and Dagenham and Newham.
It will also be the first Budget following the general election, as the new Government outlines its plans to clear the deficit by 2019-2020. Transport for London, for instance, will be funded for major projects like Crossrail, but could see its day-to-day grant from government cut phased out. This will make it entirely reliant on fares, and increasingly, commercial income, for staffing and station costs.
And finally, this will be Boris’ last budget as Mayor – so it will be a chance to reflect on his tenure but also look ahead to the next Mayor as for the first time, the London Mayoralty will not be recontested by the postholder.
This means that whoever wins in May will inherit not only the finances being set today by the Chancellor but also by the Mayor – and they might find this affects how they honour their pledges to Londoners – whether that’s on transport fares, front line police officers or building new homes.
We’ve already begun exploring these issues and our scrutiny of next year’s Budget kicked off recently at a meeting of the Budget and Performance Committee, where we discussed – among other things – the arrangements for New Year’s Eve Ticketing.
Following the pioneering of last year’s largely successful ticketing for the fireworks, it was good to hear that the Mayor’s office listened to Assembly concerns and improved the way they tackle illegal ticket touting.
If you have any ideas about the Budget and what you’d like to see, I’d urge you to contact your local Assembly member – or you can get in touch with the Assembly’s Budget & Performance team directly on email@example.com
John Biggs AM is Chair of the London Assembly Budget and Performance Committee. Stay up to date with the Assembly’s work via @londonassembly.