Mayor proposed 25% cut to Greater London Assembly budget

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Sadiq Khan planned to cut the London Assembly budget by more than a quarter while reducing his own spending by less than 6%, the Local Democracy Service can reveal.

The Mayor proposed a £2.2 million cut to the Assembly’s £8.4 million budget to help plug the half billion hole in Greater London Authority finances.

London Assembly sources say mayoral scrutiny would be “gutted” by cuts on this scale, and job losses would become inevitable.

Negotiations between Mr Khan’s team and the Assembly are ongoing, after the coronavirus pandemic threw London government finances into disarray.

The financial impact of Covid-19 is expected to decimate local government income from business rates, council tax and interest on investments.

The Mayor’s own budget plans for £126 million from these sources next year, down 23% on the previous year.

Mr Khan published his revised budget on 17 November, and cut £38 million – just less than 6% of the £640 million spending plan.

But other budgets controlled by the Mayor – including for the London Assembly, which scrutinises his decisions – have yet to be published.

Mr Khan is planning a £1.4 million cut to its annual spend, as set out in his budget guidance – but the Assembly has proposed a £1.1 million cut, according to sources.

Most of the Assembly’s budget covers employee wages – some £6.5 million this year – with the remainder spent on supplies and services.

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Images by Greater London Authority.

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This means it would be hard to cut significant sums from the budget without putting jobs at risk.

The Mayor has put aside £500,000 this year to cover the cost of redundancies both on his own team and at the Assembly, and will add £2 million to the fund in the next financial year.

A source at the Assembly said ongoing negotiations are a “battle” with the Mr Khan’s office.

“The biggest injustice has been that the Assembly budget has stayed much the same while the Mayor and his team have grown over the years,” they said.

A spokesperson for the Mayor did not deny the proposals, but said much of Mr Khan’s budget is ringfenced or mandatory spending.

Of the £602 million proposed spend next year, some £390 million is from external sources, including Government grants, and is tied to specific projects.

A further £60 million funds things Mr Khan is legally bound to provide, such as covering the cost of next year’s Mayoral and London Assembly elections.

“Covid-19 means that the GLA Group faces a shortfall of £493 million this year and next year and the Mayor has vowed to prioritise London’s recovery from the pandemic and frontline emergency services,” they said.

“The Mayor continues to work closely with the London Assembly to ensure that he delivers a balanced budget that fulfils the needs of the capital.”

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