London

Mayor of London doubles council tax rise for policing fund

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and London police chief commissioner Cressida Dick Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Sadiq Khan said he had "no choice" but to increase council tax to fund policing.

London's mayor has nearly doubled a planned rise in council tax he says will raise £16m more to fight crime.

A London household in Band D will pay £332 to City Hall next year, a 3.6% increase from £320.51 last year. In December Sadiq Khan proposed to increase on council tax by 2%.

The fund will pay to fast-track an extra 600 police officers next year.

The Conservatives said a £104m violent crime fund could be paid for by cutting unnecessary spending from the budget.

Greater London Authority (GLA) Conservatives Leader Susan Hall said: "Mr Khan has the money available to put an additional 1,598 police officers on our streets - he is just complacently choosing not to.

"Sadiq Khan is fond of blaming the Government for London's sky-high crime rates, but our plan shows that this is nothing more than shameless buck-passing."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The Met Police said tackling violence remained a top priority

The Conservative group said they had identified £25m that could be cut in GLA's staffing budget, which has increased by 82% under Mr Khan.

Up to £13m could be raised from reversing Transport for London's junk food advertising ban, the Conservatives said.

Mr Khan said the "stark reality of the increase in violent crime" left him with "no choice but to increase the policing element of the council tax by the maximum amount allowed".

He said: "The government still fails properly to fund the Metropolitan Police.

"Despite all of the evidence, ministers do not recognise the impact that their systematic cuts to policing and youth services have had in London since 2010."

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Ninety-five people were stabbed to death in London in 2019

In 2019 there were 154 murders in London.

Despite a drop nationally, homicides in London rose for a third successive calendar year to the highest level since 2008.

The Met Police said tackling violence remained a top priority, adding that it had anti-knife crime plans specific to boroughs and aimed to have more than 32,000 officers by summer 2020.

In July the Home Office announced plans to recruit 20,000 new police officers in England and Wales

The Met Police Commissioner has requested 6,000 of these additional officers, supported by the Mayor of London.

BBC
Greater London Authority Budget 2020/21

  • £332.07Yearly Band D Council Tax Precept

  • 3.6%Increase on last year

  • £770mFunding for Metropolitan Police

  • £169mFunding for London Fire Brigade

Source: City Hall

The proposed council tax increase will raise an additional £15.7m, which will be used to bring forward the introduction of 600 extra police officers from 2021-22 to next year, Mr Khan said.

Since his first budget in 2017-18 Mr Khan has increased Great London Authority's council tax precept by 19%, from £280 a year for a Band D property.

The Green Party are calling for £18m to be made available in the budget to make all toilets on Transport for London's network free and add 32 new automatic toilets.

Caroline Russell, Green Party assembly member, said: "People who have to plan their journeys around toilets, particularly older Londoners, those with a disability or medical condition and people with children, shouldn't have their lives limited by a lack of loos."

The Liberal Democrats have called for the Silvertown Tunnel to be cut from the budget.

Caroline Pidgeon, the Lib Dems' sole assembly member, called for the £1bn contract to be spent on "public transport, walking and cycling projects".

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