By Marcus Leach
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson today (Tuesday) called on borough leaders to follow his lead and freeze their portion of the council tax.
In a letter to all London councils, the Mayor urges them to help protect hard-pressed Londoners from increases in their tax burden. Subject to final approval next month, the Mayor’s share of the council tax (the GLA precept) will be frozen for an unprecedented fourth consecutive year.
After eight years of continued increases in the GLA precept reaching 152 per cent under the previous Mayor, Boris Johnson has overseen what is equivalent to a 12 per cent saving for Londoners in real terms since May 2008.
As a reward for this fiscal stability, the Mayor has been awarded £120.5m by the Government. All London boroughs are entitled to one off grants equivalent to raising their council tax by 2.5 per cent, as an incentive for councils to protect their residents from an increase.
In the letter the Mayor of London Boris Johnson said:
After eight years of increases in the Mayoral share of council tax, my administration’s policy since 2008 has been to freeze the GLA’s precept, focusing instead on getting the best possible value for money by controlling costs and eliminating waste.
It is possible to do this and still deliver the services that Londoners need. At the GLA, we have been able to keep tax low and still deliver 1,000 more police officers and record investment in transport infrastructure- an investment in London’s future that will grow our economy.
‘A priority for all of us in these difficult times must be to do what we can to ease the financial burden on the capital’s council tax payers. I hope, therefore, you will freeze your council tax, as I have done, as this will come as a massive and welcome relief to households right across London.’
The Mayor will be outlining his priorities for the capital in front of the London Assembly at Mayor’s Question Time on Wednesday at City Hall.
In his draft consolidated budget, funding will be ploughed into delivering the Mayor's key priorities, which include:
- Securing a sustained increase in participation in sport and physical activity amongst Londoners
- Delivering the Mayor's target of 50,000 affordable homes by the end of 2012
- Helping to boost London's economy through the Rebuilding London Fund
- Increasing the opportunities for young people, including delivering 100,000 apprenticeships by the end of 2012.
The budget will allow for significant investment to be made to help regenerate London, in particular those affected by the disturbances in August, and will also protect the capital’s police numbers - at the end of this Mayoral term there will be around 1,000 more officers than at the beginning.
It will also ensure that Crossrail and the Tube upgrades will be delivered and fares will be held down as much as is possible, whilst maintaining neo-Victorian levels of investment in transport infrastructure- helping the city to emerge from the current economic difficulties more competitive than ever.
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