Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced that City Hall will provide £22.5 million to protect frontline policing from the financial strain of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The money will come from Greater London Authority reserves and will cover half of the £45.5 million in cuts facing London’s police over the next year.
The remaining half will be met in part by delaying a proposed move to bring forward the recruitment of 600 additional officers that was scheduled for 2021/2022, though City Hall claims the Metropolitan Police has exceeded its recruitment target for this year.
Mr Khan said: “I‘m proud of my record of being both tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime – and that there are more than a thousand additional police officers on London’s streets than when I first became Mayor.
“This additional funding I have announced today means the Met can protect police officer numbers over the next year.”
City Hall is facing losses of up to £493 million over the next two years because of falling business rates and council tax income caused by the pandemic. Sadiq Khan has urged the Government to help fund the cost of Covid-19 and has accused it of “implementing a new era of austerity on public services in London”.
He added: “Ministers are refusing to fully refund City Hall and the Met for the money we’ve spent tackling the pandemic and the income we’ve lost as a result. It is absolutely vital that the Government provides more funding for public services hit by the cost of the pandemic.”
Susan Hall, leader of the GLA Conservatives, hit back at the Mayor and claimed he is prioritising “bureaucracy and spin at City Hall”.
She said: “Sadiq Khan has consistently found millions of pounds for more bureaucrats, press officers and virtue signalling projects instead keeping Londoners safe. We identified more than £104 millions of savings earlier this year which the Mayor could make to invest in policing.”
Despite the additional funding, the Metropolitan Police and Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) face further cuts of £63.8 million between 2021 and 2022. A freeze on staff recruitment has already been planned, though this will not include the recruitment of police officers.
Caroline Pidgeon, Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member, welcomed the announcement of additional money for the police but warned that the current model is “unsustainable” and “hinders the Met in protecting us”.
Mrs Pidgeon said: “Without long-term funding it is increasingly difficult for the Met to plan ahead and we will start to see police officers taking on the work of police staff as budgets are increasingly stretched.”