What does the Autumn Statement mean for Londoners?
Today the Chancellor delivered the Autumn Statement where he set out the Government’s latest spending plans. Since I was elected as Mayor I’ve been working hard to ensure that London gets the best possible deal from this Autumn Statement, including meeting with the Chancellor and other government ministers to lobby for more powers over housing, business growth, skills, employment and transport.
London currently controls just seven per cent of funds raised in the city, compared to 50 per cent in New York and 70 per cent in Tokyo – today’s Autumn Statement signals the start of a long-term process of giving London government the control it needs to grow and protect the capital’s economy from the current economic uncertainty we face.
Here’s my verdict on the Autumn Statement, and what it means for Londoners:
- Record deal on affordable housing. London now has a record-breaking £3.15 billion deal for affordable housing. This is the largest sum of money ever secured by City Hall for affordable housing. I’ve also secured changes to the rules around how we can spend this money – so it can be used to fund new homes for low-cost rent, London Living Rent, and shared ownership between now and 2021. It means we can now crack on with delivering the genuinely affordable homes Londoners so desperately need. However, we will need to go further and faster if we are to begin the hard slog of turning around London’s desperate housing crisis, which is holding back productivity and economic growth. This is a marathon – not a sprint.
- Control over adult skills funding from 2019-2020. This will help us give Londoners the skills they need for the jobs of the future – which is more important than ever in the aftermath of the EU referendum. I hope we can go further on this in the future with control of skills budgets for 16-18-year-olds too.
- Help back into work. London will soon have more control over employment support services in the capital – the programmes and schemes that help get unemployed people back into work.
- Support for jobs and business. I’ve secured further investment in the London Local Enterprise Panel so it can continue to support regeneration, employment and skills in the capital.
- Banning letting agency fees. This piles on costs for renters. Scrapping fees is a very welcome move, and one I have been calling for for some time.
- Scrapping the proposed increase in fuel duty. This will be a welcome relief for motorists during these difficult times, saving the average driver £130 a year, and the average van driver £350 a year.
- Minimum wage increase. The National minimum wage will increase from £7.20 per hour to £7.50 in April next year. While I welcome this increase, it is lower than previously promised by George Osborne and is still a long way short of the London Living Wage of £9.75 I’d like to see all London businesses paying.
- Rail delays... Of course we didn’t get everything we asked for today – securing more control for London will not happen overnight. I’m disappointed, for example, that the Chancellor didn’t devolve control of suburban railways in London, something that is supported by councils, MPs and Assembly Members of all political parties. Commuters who rely on Southern, South-West and South-Eastern services are currently being ripped off with a terrible service. I hope the Government will move on rail devolution sooner rather than later – I will continue to push for this and try and get the best deal for rail commuters in London. I was also disappointed that there has been no action to freeze fares on national rail lines, or to make childcare more affordable – which now costs the average London family £16,000 a year.
This is just the start. I’ll now be continuing negotiations with the Treasury and Downing Street for a deal for London that focuses on further housing and skills devolution, fiscal devolution and control over public services including health and criminal justice.