By Claire West
Government funding for London’s police, fire and transport services and City Hall will be cut by more than a fifth over the next four years, a new report by the London Assembly says.
The Assembly’s Budget and Performance Committee says the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA), London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA), Transport for London (TfL) and Greater London Authority (GLA) funding will be cut by an average of 21 per cent.
The Pre-Budget report says once final decisions following the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) are made about the funding available for 2011/12, the Mayor will need to make difficult decisions about the level and allocation of money raised from council taxpayers.
John Biggs AM, Chair of the Assembly Budget and Performance Committee, said: “Public spending cuts are affecting everyone and the GLA group is not exempt from this. The Mayor faces difficult decisions about how he will allocate almost a billion pounds to the police and fire authorities and potentially — for the first time since the GLA’s creation — economic development.
“But politics is about tough choices. Although the Mayor will try to protect front line services, these will not escape unscathed. Already we are hearing that there will be over 1,000 fewer police officers next year. It remains to be seen what impact this will have on the service delivered by the police and which other key London services will be affected.”
The report sets out the main issues facing the police, fire and transport services, the London Development Agency and the GLA itself. These include:
Grant funding will reduce by 21 per cent by 2014/15.
While priority areas have been protected, lower priority programmes are facing an average of 28 per cent cuts.
Pay rises of 4.2 per cent for TfL staff are higher than other public service organisations in London and are putting undue pressure on TfL to find further savings or additional income.
Apart from government spending falling by 20 per cent nationally over four years, this budget will also be affected by a possible 25 per cent fall in income from other public bodies.
The MPA’s gross budget is likely to fall by between 10 and 12 per cent in cash terms over the next four years.
London will have over 1,000 fewer police officers next year.
The CSR will result in average reductions of 25 per cent over four years.
The grant cut looks likely to be lower than five per cent in 2011/12, meaning the Mayor could reallocate some of this funding to other areas.
LFEPA say front-line services could be maintained next year, but is unable to commit to protecting the current configuration of services beyond this.
Officers are currently assessing whether there is an over supply of fire appliances in the capital.
LDA and GLA
The position of the LDA is subject to continuing negotiations.
From April 2011, the only confirmed government funding is for ongoing LDA contractual commitments.
The Mayor continues to plan for a housing and regeneration agency within the GLA.
The report also sets out the particular challenges for the Mayor posed by the CSR when combined with proposals for the devolution of new economic development and housing functions to City Hall. Although the Mayor is likely to gain significant new powers in these areas, central funding is set to reduce nationally.
The Committee will look at these issues in more depth once grant settlements in these areas are finalised.