Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Boris Johnson fails to save London from the cuts

Boris has just finished speaking at City Hall where he congratulated himself for "saving" London from savage cuts to London transport.

He said that he had "convinced" the Treasury of the importance of maintaining London's public transport and averted the "fiscal suicide" of severe cuts.

The message given by the Mayor was clear. His "Stalingrad-like defence" of the transport budget had succeeded, and if the assembled hacks could just briefly applaud then we could all be on our way.

However, the BBC's Tom Edwards was quick to point out that his claims of special treatment just didn't add up.

Approximately one-third of TfL's funding comes from a direct grant from the Department for Transport (DfT). Following the Government's Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), TfL's overall grant funding from the DfT has been reduced by £2.17bn in total over the four years covered by the CSR, or 21 per cent in real terms in 2014/15, when compared to the base year of 2010/11.

Bus subsidies are also being slashed and overall fares are expected to rise well above inflation both on the tube and on National rail.

So despite all the months of briefing and speeches that he would save London commuters from the cuts, he's actually managed to lop a whopping 0% off of the transport cuts that are being dished out.

And that's before you even get on to the massive 78% cut to affordable housing and huge cuts to housing benefits and policing.

Now Boris will argue that if it were not for his behind-the-scenes lobbying, both Crossrail and the Tube upgrade would not be going ahead.

Of course there's no way of knowing exactly for sure.

However, this anecdote from Eric Pickle's office may give us some clues as to what happened behind closed doors:

There has been some puzzlement in Whitehall after Boris Johnson vowed to have it out with Eric Pickles over the latter’s plans - as yet undisclosed and undefined - to cut the £7bn London budget.

In a pre-emptive strike, a source close to Boris was quoted in the Mail on Sunday eight days ago promising to “explode” if his budget is cut by an “outrageous” 25 per cent. DCLG sources are bemused that there has been no conversation about funding between Pickles and Johnson in recent weeks and there is no meeting in the diary. “The whole exercise seems to have been artificially created to bolster Boris’s credentials,” says one.

And judging by the budget settlement those credentials are wearing increasingly thin at Number Ten.

-Update- TfL have now published those fare rises. Single bus fares go up to £1.30. That's 44% more expensive than when he was elected.

1 comment:

Rob said...

And the One Day Travelcard range is reducing from six to three. All of them force you to pay for Zone 1, even if you don't use it. Oyster caps rise massively to match this.

Mayor to Outer London - drop dead.