Sadiq Khan urged to rethink his £40 council tax hike plan

Sadiq Khan   (PA)
Sadiq Khan (PA)

Sadiq Khan is facing calls to respond to the cost-of-living crisis by rethinking plans to increase his share of council tax bills by almost £40 a year.

Mr Khan has indicated that a £38.55 rise in his share of average bills could be imposed from April, increasing the amount that goes to City Hall by 9.7 per cent, a record amount since he became mayor, ands taking his total demand at Band D to £434. Confirmation of the precise amount is expected this week.

The mayor, who oversees £20bn of public spending each year, says there will be a long-term impact on the Met police and London fire brigade if he decides not to increase their budgets by the full amount allowed by the Government.

But a report from the London Assembly’s budget committee raised a number of “concerns”, including the fact that reserves have almost trebled in the last five years and will have reached £1.5bn by March.

It said the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime had abandoned for 2023/24 the target of aiming to recruit 6,000 additional police officers and may have to hand back £20m to the Home Office due to not hiring enough officers this year.

A pay increase of above five per cent that is being sought by firefighters nationally could mean the London fire brigade being unable to fill all its vacancies, forcing it to rely on overtime.

The report called for greater clarity on the cost of expanding the ultra-low emission zone to the Greater London boundary in August, and more details on projected income from the £12.50 –a-day levy and the fines for non-compliance.

Peter Fortune, Tory chairman of the budget committee, said Mr Khan’s budget posed “significant challenges for Londoners”.

He said: “We are operating in times of uncertainty for families and businesses, and we urge the Mayor to seriously consider the recommendations included within this report to help alleviate some pressures on Londoners in what is already an incredibly challenging time.”

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London, said: “Sadiq fully recognises that Londoners are struggling due to the impact of the cost of living crisis. No decision has been made yet on council tax.

“But with the Government’s refusal to provide all of the funding London needs, the Mayor may be left with no alternative but to plug the gap by raising City Hall’s share of council tax so that we can protect and improve London’s vital public services, including the police, transport and the London Fire Brigade.”