London Mayor and City of London react to budget announcement

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London Mayor and City of London react to budget announcement
credit Unsplash

Mayor Sadiq Khan has claimed that the Government’s Budget is a “missed opportunity” for London, warning that it has left several key transport projects in a state of uncertainty.

The Budget, announced by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt on Wednesday, included a range of measures aimed at growing the UK economy – but Khan said the Government had “missed an opportunity” to invest in the capital and its infrastructure.

The Mayor claimed that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Hunt were instead focused on holding onto the formerly-Labour seats in the North and Midlands, which the Conservatives won at the 2019 general election.

Khan said: “This Budget was an opportunity for the Government to announce expenditure in our health services, in our transport, in housing, in regeneration. Once again, London is missing from the Budget.

“I think what the Government’s doing is playing crude politics, pitting one part of the country from another, trying to support their Red Wall seats’ MPs.

“But the problem is this: if the Government wants a national recovery, it can only do that with London playing its full part. The only way we are going to play our full part is by investment in transport.

“What about the Bakerloo Line extension south? What about the Croydon-Sutton Tram? What about Crossrail 2? What about the new signalling for the Piccadilly Line?”

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The Bakerloo Line extension was first consulted on back in 2014 – and would run from the current southern terminus at Elephant and Castle down to Lewisham via Burgess Park, the Old Kent Road and New Cross Gate. A second phase could see it go further, down to Hayes and Beckenham Junction.

The Croydon-Sutton Tram would link Sutton town centre with south London’s existing tram system, and has also been discussed for several years.

Crossrail 2, which has been paused due to lack of funds, would run from Tottenham Hale and Seven Sisters down to Wimbledon, with potential extensions north and south from those points.

The Piccadilly Line’s 1950s-era signalling system is meanwhile holding back the frequency of tubes on that route.

The mayor also argued that the Budget had neglected a number of other areas.

“What about the new homes that Londoners desperately need? We need the government to be investing £4 billion a year in housing – there’s a housing crisis.

“What about the health service? We’ve got, today, junior doctors on strike. We need investment in the health service as well.

“It was an opportunity the Government had to invest in the country by investing in London, and they missed it.”

The Treasury has said that the Budget brings “a revolution in childcare, a £27 billion tax cut for business and a trio of freezes to help families with the cost-of-living”.

“Aimed at achieving long-term, sustainable economic growth that delivers prosperity for the people of the UK, the Spring Budget breaks down barriers to work, unshackles business investment and tackles labour shortages head on,” the Treasury said.

Key promises announced by Hunt included extended energy bill support, a £4 billion free childcare scheme for one and two-year-olds, and the abolition of the £1 million cap on how much can be put into pension funds before taxes kick in.

The Treasury was approached for further comment in response to Khan’s claims.

Meanwhile, City of London Corporation, Policy Chairman, Chris Hayward, took the view that the Chancellor has presented a “sound and sensible” budget.

He said: “The UK continues to face a challenging economic outlook, yet it is positive to see that inflation is expected to drop faster this year than previously predicted. But we’re not yet out of the woods.

“The Government has listened to our calls on how defined contribution funds can be better utilised to support high-growth industries to start, stay and scale in the UK.

“We have been working with the sector on a Future Growth Fund – a £50bn fund – which will give DC pension savers the chance to invest in growth companies. We look forward to working with the Government on these plans as they develop.

“The Chancellor made the tough choice to increase corporation tax, for firms this is a bitter pill to swallow. And so, we are pleased to see he is providing some support to businesses with a new temporary capital allowance scheme. However, further work will be needed if we’re to unlock significant investment.”

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