Labour Party leader Ed Miliband MP and mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone launched their six key pledges for London today. Led by Ken's much publicised 7% fare cut pledge, Labour aim to address the rising cost of living which is squeezing millions of Londoners.
The week after London mayor Boris Johnson announced his nine point plan for London, part of which we looked at in more detail earlier this week, Ken Livingstone's six point plan sets out how he plans to save Londoners money. Let's take a look at Ken's pledges:
- I will cut fares by 7% this year and freeze them throughout 2013. Oyster single bus fares will be reduced from £1.35 to £1.20. From 2014 fares will not rise above inflation.
- Boris Johnson has admitted cutting 1,700 police officers. If I am elected, I will reverse his cuts. And I will reinstate sergeants to all 600 Safer Neighbourhood Teams, more of which will be beefed up to a minimum of nine officers.
- I will establish an all-London non-profit making lettings agency which, by cutting out Estate Agents' profit, will help reduce rents and provide secure tenancies, and I will campaign for a London Living Rent - no Londoner should pay more than a third of their income in rent.
- I will enable London households to save over £150 a year on energy bills through taking up money from energy companies for better insulation, which Boris Johnson has failed to do - losing London £400m - and bringing in bulk purchasing deals to cut the price paid by Londoners for electricity and gas.
- After the Tory-led government's abolition of EMA I am committed to restoring a London-wide Educational Maintenance Allowance of up to £30 per week in term by bringing together existing funds in colleges, universities, and local authorities.
- I will help families with the upfront cost of childcare through offering grants of up to £700 to low income families and interest-free loans to families earning up to £40,000 per year. I will campaign against the Tory cuts to childcare tax credits and provide funding to create more out-of-hours childcare places at 200 nurseries across London.
Leaving aside the seemingly obligatory rival-bashing which all candidates appear unable to resist indulging in, Ken's pledges are very obviously designed to appeal to the individual Londoner; the people unable to afford childcare, the people struggling with high energy bills, students from poorer homes, with the flagship pledge of a fare cut saving the average London fare-payers £1,000 over four years. The Green Party have said they can save London households £1,500 over four years whereas Boris Johnson is claiming a saving of £445 over four years. Ken Livingstone said:
"This election is not the X-Factor or a soap opera but a deadly serious choice about who will put the majority first, and with years of rising fares in very tough times the question of reducing the squeeze on Londoners’ living standards has become the central issue."
In response to Ken Livingstone's comments about childcare in London, Green Party mayoral candidate Jenny Jones said:
"It's right to highlight childcare as a growing problem in London, but families in the capital need a more comprehensive approach than merely papering over the cracks with occasional grants. The next Mayor must prevent the closure of breakfast clubs and work with schools to extend their opening hours. We need investment in play schemes and as a city we must take on debt exploitation that is crippling so many households."
The final pre-election Mayor's Question Time is being held today, see MayorWatch for a live blog.