The new budget announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak “lacks ambitious vision” according to London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
The mayor welcomed the short-term economic support announced by the Chancellor, such as grants for the arts and cultural sectors and support for the self-employed but said that the budget “takes London’s recovery for granted”.
Despite the Chancellor extending the furlough scheme until September and the business rates holiday for the next three months, Sadiq Khan said “there was a distinct lack of good news” for people on low wages.
Mr Khan said: “Unfortunately, it is clear that there is no ambitious planning from the Government for our recovery. We simply cannot afford to return to the entrenched unemployment of the 1980s which destroyed so many lives and communities. There was too little from the Chancellor to kickstart the economy, create new jobs and protect existing ones or to provide the level of support our businesses and least well-off will need for many months to come.
“I fully support levelling up the rest of the country, but that should not mean levelling down London and its communities. The budget takes London’s recovery for granted and without support from the government that recovery cannot be guaranteed.
“This matters for the whole country because, whether it’s right or not, for the foreseeable future it will be London that is the powerhouse of the UK economy, helping make sure the country can pay its bills.”
In addition to extending furlough and the business rates holiday, the Chancellor also announced that the £20 a week uplift to Universal Credit would be extended for a further six months and that the minimum wage would rise to £8.91 per hour from April.
Richard Burge, chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that the extra support announced “will be welcomed by business” but that he hoped the Government would remain open to revising the support that is needed.
Mr Burge said: “In London, full economic recovery will not just happen when shutters can be lifted.
“Lockdown easing will be staggered and the conditions after full unlocking have to be right for the safe return of domestic and international visitors, as well as business travel and trade.
“That’s why the extension of support beyond the lockdown lifting dates makes sense and will be welcomed by business.
“But the road to recovery may well end up with more speed restrictions than hoped, so it’s important the government remain open-minded to a need for support revision, if so.
“We are now working our way through the full detail of the Budget, with it in mind that London has taken the hardest economic hit from Covid-19, in real-terms has been ‘levelled-down’, yet its role in both domestic and global economies will be vital to driving the recovery of regions across the UK.”