The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has proposed on Wednesday increasing his share of council tax by 22p a week, with the vast majority going directly to tackle violent crime in the capital.
Keeping Londoners safe is the mayor’s top priority and, following damaging government cuts, the mayor is supporting the Metropolitan Police Commissioner’s request for an additional 6,000 officers on top of the extra 1,300 already funded by the mayor.
The proposed increase will raise an additional £15.7m for policing and crime reduction on top of the mayor’s initial council tax proposals. This will allow Khan to fast-track funding to bring forward 600 extra police officers into 2020/21, who would otherwise not have been recruited until 2021/22.
Although last week the government confirmed revenue funding which was £26.9m above the level forecast in the mayor’s consultation budget, published in December, the Home Office indicated an element of this additional funding is for the cost of infrastructure such as buildings or vehicles for additional officers to be recruited in 2021/22 and 2022/23. Despite this, it is not known how many additional Metropolitan Police officers the government will fund in future years or whether, as this year, headline increases in funding will mask other cuts.
The government’s settlement does not make up for the number of police officers lost since 2010, even though the capital’s population has grown. To make matters worse, the Metropolitan Police was told last week of a £9.1m reduction in its capital grant and the government has hit London with a new £7m bill towards the cost of national IT programmes.
The mayor has therefore proposed today to increase his share of council tax bills by £11.56 a year from April, meaning that an average Band D household will pay £332.07 to City Hall.
Of this increase, £10 (19p a week) will go directly towards policing and tackling violent crime in the city. This is the maximum amount by which the government will allow the Mayor to increase his share of council tax that goes directly to policing and crime reduction.
The mayor will also increase his share of council tax that goes to non-policing services by £1.56 (3p a week), as previously announced in December, with the proceeds from this increase all going to the London Fire Brigade.
Khan said, “The government still fails properly to fund the Metropolitan Police and, 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.
“While I welcome the partial reversal of those cuts, the current system of one-year funding settlements creates uncertainty and potentially damaging funding gaps. We don’t know whether the government will support London to recruit the officers it needs.
“I am extremely concerned that ministers are continuing to shift the burden of police funding from government grant to Council Tax. The stark reality of the increase in violent crime that we have seen in London and around the country means that I have no choice but to increase the policing element of the council tax by the maximum amount allowed.”