Finally, after months of arguing about where cuts and closures will fall, the Mayor’s draft budget for the next financial year has been released so the various areas (police, fire, transport) know just how much money they have to play with in the next year. (Now all we’re waiting for is the finalised proposals for how the Met police and fire service will allocate that – reduced – money. There’ll be blood on the carpet before long.)
The headline grabber is that council tax is going down, hooray! Or perhaps not; don’t splash out just yet. The reduction has been worked out to 1.2%, or £3.72 a year, for a Band D property (which is what these things are always calculated on). And it’s just on the GLA precept, which – based on our own council tax bill – is about a fifth of the total. Given that fares went up an average of 4.2% yesterday, from a higher base, we’re still far worse off.
Labour Assembly Member John Biggs called the council tax reduction “an insult to hard-working Londoners”, while Liberal Democrat Assembly Member Stephen Knight told the BBC:
I do think there is more the mayor can do to protect services on an ongoing basis without the need for some of these cuts to fire and police stations that we’re seeing. And I think the mayor should focus on that, focus on keeping services in London that Londoners require, instead of these headline-grabbing attempts at cutting the precept by tiny amounts that nobody’s going to notice.
You can read the whole, enormous, terrifying document on the GLA website and, if you want to see Boris Johnson quizzed by the London Assembly about it, put 30 January in your diary and pop along to Mayor’s Question Time.