It's budget time again: City Hall has released details of how it plans to spend money in the next financial year, and we've been watching Boris Johnson and the London Assembly argue* about what's being planned.
There's going to be a small reduction in your council tax. The part you pay that goes to the Greater London Authority is falling — exactly how much will depend on what council tax band you're in, but a Band D taxpayer will get £4 back over the year. (Your council may still put its share of council tax up, so don't plan how to spend that 7p a week saving just yet.) The Conservative Assembly Members propose a larger reduction, primarily funded by scrapping free travel for Transport for London staff's friends and family.
If you live in outer London you'll be interested in a discussion around reintroducing the off peak Pay As You Go cap for zones 4-6. 25,000 passengers are now paying more and TfL says it would cost £10m to bring back the cap. All parties pushed the Mayor on this issue, and he has conceded that he'll go back to TfL and ask them to look again at the policy change. There's also the usual Labour vs Tory to and fro about using a TfL underspend to fund a reduction in fares across the board; we had this debate, extensively, during the 2012 election and TfL always insists there is no underspend. (And in a budget where TfL has to find £209m in savings, any 'spare' cash will be hoovered up.)
The Metropolitan police have to save £200m a year to 2020, and the Assembly budget committee doubts the force's ability to reach a target of 32,000 officers. The Met hopes to make savings by investing in IT and outsourcing. Labour's alternate suggestion for the budget is that by not cutting council tax, London could afford another 1,025 police officers.
The budget is still not signed off and could, technically, change but don't expect anything earth-shattering. You can read the documents for yourself on the GLA website.
* Literally, in certain instances. Some Labour members were in particularly combative mood and at one point Boris Johnson called Andrew Dismore "dumbo". Nice. But that was all overshadowed by a tirade from the Mayor which was so bizarre that his microphone was turned off; we watched the whole thing on webcast and at first honestly thought someone was ranting in the public gallery. Some Assembly Member or other actually booed, and the chair adjourned the meeting so everyone could cool off. Our local democracy in action, there.