Mayor Says Budget “Lacks Ambitious Vision” For Building A Better Future
London Mayor Sadiq Khan today accused the Chancellor of telling a budget that “lacks an ambitious vision for building a better future for all who have suffered during the pandemic”.
Sadiq had urged the government to come up with a bold 1945-style plan to better rebuild when the city and country recover – and to honor all who have suffered and lost loved ones as a result of Covid-19.
However, he said the plans Rishi Sunak MP put forward today will not make London or Britain fairer, greener or more successful.
The budget will not do enough to create much-needed jobs in the capital or to protect existing ones, and Londoners and businesses will need far more support than the government intends in the coming months.
The short-term support announced for the capital’s economy is welcome and necessary, including new grants for high street businesses and the arts sector, support for the self-employed and the announcement of a new free port in Tilbury and London.
The government’s delay in confirming the extension of the vacation system, corporate vacation rates, and the 5 percent discounted VAT rate for the hospitality industry has undoubtedly cost jobs and made business life difficult.
And the Chancellor today should have extended vacation rates for business rates until later in the year when visitor numbers and tourism return – and must be ready to extend all of these measures in case the worst happens and there is a third wave.
The budget also does not provide a long-term vision for the lifting of restrictions. Sadiq has called on the ministers to gradually replace the current emergency measures with a national employment guarantee, which is linked to high-quality apprenticeships and in-service training.
The Mayor is working with companies on a roadmap for London’s recovery and has allocated an additional £ 5 million to a campaign to boost domestic tourism and recreation in the city once restrictions are lifted. With the government not making similar proposals today or not funding the mayor’s program, Sadiq believes that capital is left to its own devices.
London’s economy accounts for a quarter of the UK’s total economic output and Sadiq believes that London’s success is an integral part of the UK’s recovery.
However, the budget confirms that the government appears to intend to usher in a new era of austerity measures in London that will hamper the city’s economic recovery and affect the most vulnerable.
The government is still refusing to properly reimburse the cost of the pandemic in London regional and local government as the Greater London Authority Group faces a £ 367 million black hole this year and next, causing cuts inevitable in important public services.
There has been no significant additional investment in the truly affordable housing that London so desperately needs and that is not adequately funded for the Metropolitan Police and the London Fire Brigade.
There was also no fair funding agreement for Transport for London for 2021/22, which addresses the devastating impact of the pandemic on TfL’s finances along with a new funding model.
The budget also failed to address the underlying inequalities in our society – the Mayor had called for the £ 20 universal loan increase to be permanent, the benefit cap to be lifted, the “public funding” conditions to be suspended and an increase to be made statutory sickness payment for those who cannot afford to self-isolate.
The government has not raised the eligibility criteria for financial assistance for those in need of self-isolation to prevent an increase in cases caused by people who cannot afford to stay home. Many Londoners, including hundreds of thousands of the self-employed, remain excluded from government support despite today’s announcements.
The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “Today’s budget completely lacked an ambitious vision for building a better future for everyone who has suffered from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This has been without a doubt the toughest year London and Britain have faced since World War II and while there is now some light at the end of the tunnel, Londoners and businesses will need financial support in the months to come.
“The government owes it to the more than 120,000 people who lost their lives during the pandemic, the NHS and key workers who did so much to keep us safe and moving, and everyone who followed the rules and did put their lives on hold – to build a better and fairer country after the pandemic. Yet today there was a definite lack of good news for the large number of key workers who earned low wages and were getting us through this crisis.
“Unfortunately, it is clear that there is no ambitious government planning for our recovery. We simply cannot afford to go back to the ingrained unemployment of the 1980s that destroyed so many lives and communities. The Chancellor has done too little today to stimulate the economy, create new jobs and protect existing ones, or to provide the support our businesses and the least affluent will need for many months to come.
“I fully support improving the rest of the country, but that shouldn’t mean improving London and its communities. Today’s budget takes London’s recovery for granted, and without government support, that recovery cannot be guaranteed.
“This matters to the whole country because whether it is right or not, for the foreseeable future, London will be the powerhouse of the UK economy and help the country pay its bills.”
The Mayor has welcomed the creation of a free haven for the Thames, which he hopes will help realize his vision for a production corridor for the Thames Estuary, making the Thames Estuary a hub for the creative and cultural industries and to create jobs and growth for the benefit of London and the rest of the world South East.