William Eichler 19 December 2016

London mayor raising council tax to fund police services

The mayor of London is raising council tax for the first time in nine years in order to fund the police, committee says.

The London Assembly Budget and Performance Committee’s ‘pre-budget report’ found Sadiq Khan is proposing to increase the police precept element of council tax bills by 1.99% - adding £4.02 to the average Band D property.

Central government funding for the Metropolitan Police (Met) is due to fall by £17.4m compared to 2015-16, the committee added.

The report, published ahead of the mayor’s draft 2017-18 budget, also revealed Transport for London (TfL) planned to hugely increase its borrowing to finance its business plan.

By 2020-2021, the committee warned, the TfL’s level of debt will be more than £12bn and interest costs will increase by over 50%. Fares income could also be less than expected.

The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) is continuing to make operating losses, and the cost of the London Stadium has increased by another £51m this year, the committee said.

The Mayoral Development Corporations also continue to underperform and remain a significant risk for the mayor and the capital’s share of the Growth Deal 3 funding is not enough to support his planned regeneration and economic development projects.

Gareth Bacon, chairman of the Budget and Performance Committee, said: ‘The mayor has decided to increase council tax next year to help fund the Met Police. He will have to explain to the Assembly – and to Londoners – why this is the best way of dealing with the cut in Government funding announced last week.

‘We also have concerns over TfL’s fares income, which could be less than expected. So far, there are no affordable housebuilding targets, and it is now being proposed that the Met’s performance measures should be set at the borough, not London, level.

‘That aside, some issues with this year’s budget process need to be addressed, including a significant lack of transparency and the absence of any proposed performance measures,’ Mr Bacon continued.

‘It’s important the mayor ensures that high standards of transparency are introduced and improved throughout his term in office.’

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