“There is an alternative”
The London Assembly Labour Group will today table their amendment to the Mayor Boris Johnson’s draft 2013-14 budget for London. The amendment and proposals focus on protecting frontline services, easing the cost of living crisis and helping young Londoners into work.
The key points of Labour’s proposals are:
- A Jobs Guarantee for all 16-24 year olds who have been out of work for 1 year or more
- Cut transport fares by 1% so they are in line with inflation
- Re-allocate business rates to protect frontline police and fire services
- Freeze the Mayor’s share of the Council Tax
- Start the process of setting up a London-wide lettings agency
It’s clear to myself and my colleagues on the Assembly that as the economy stumbles and splutters towards a triple-dip recession the Mayor needs to help the economy and help ordinary Londoners:
- Cutting fares by 1% will put £34m into Londoners’ pockets,
- the Jobs Guarantee will put 7,500 long-term unemployed young Londoners into work,
- Reallocating business rates will help protect frontline police and fire services to help keep London safe and secure.
I agree with my collegue John Biggs AM Assembly Member for City and East London, who says “Boris may shrug his shoulders and say he is doing all he can, but he is signed up to the government’s reckless economic plans. All he has done is said the ‘rhetoric should be toned down’, but that cuts and austerity should continue. At a time when ordinary Londoners are struggling and the economy is flat-lining he must do more, there is an alternative”.
Boris has cut his share of the council tax by less than 10 pence a week per household, but at the same time has whacked up fares above inflation for the fifth year running. He must be stupid to think Londoners won’t notice this wheeze.
1. The background note below provides more information on each proposal
Working closely with appropriate employers the Jobs Guarantee would provide participants with 21 hours work per week paid at the London Living Wage. As of December 2013 there were 7,455 16-24 year-olds in London who have been unemployed for more than 12 months. This proposal would see £35.6 million invested in 2013-14 to finance the scheme, including wages and employer’s NI contributions.
The Jobs Guarantee will help prevent another ‘lost generation’ of unemployed young people, it will generate up to £27 million for HM Treasury through increased National Insurance payments, reducing the Job Seekers’ Allowance payments and through the VAT generated by the purchase of consumer goods by participants of the scheme.
Protecting frontline Police services
Following central government’s 20% cut to the policing budget the frontline is now being hit. The Mayor has chosen not to allocate any more resources to the police, even though he has the ability to do so. He is planning to cut police numbers, cut front counters and decimate Safer Neighbourhood Teams. The budget amendment proposal is designed to cushion the impact of central government cuts.
The proposals would:
- Recruit 1,159 PCSOs – both improving uniformed presence on our streets and creating a pool for future recruitment of police constables
- Maintain the current level of front counter services across London
- Recruit 250 new police officers for Safer Transport Teams
Protecting frontline Fire services
Freezing the Mayoral precept will retain £9.4 million this year which will be used to keep all 12 fire stations and 18 fire appliances that are earmarked for the axe. This will maintain the current level of fire cover for London.
Reallocation of business rates
This proposal would allocate the recently-localised funds from Retained Business Rates in a way that protects the public services that Londoners depend upon and finances projects that help secure a sustainable economic, infrastructure, and environmental future for London.
‘Rogue’ landlords and lettings agencies
This proposal would invest in a GLA ‘know your rights’ website for tenants in collaboration with charities and think-tanks. Secondly, proposes the financing of an action research project in to the establishment of a London-wide lettings agency. Thirdly, propose the commission of an extensive study into the feasibility of a London Living Rent.