It’s not just about London. Boosting the capital’s recovery will drive national growth and benefit the whole country, Sadiq Khan has told the government as City Hall’s multi-billion pound shopping list submission to the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review is published.
The capital’s contribution to the country as a whole, coupled with a commitment to “working constructively with the government”, was at the heart of a bid for support to “ensure we can make the most of London’s ability to drive national growth”.
Investment in London’s infrastructure and public services “generates jobs and growth across the UK, and, likewise, London benefits from similar investments elsewhere,” Khan told Chancellor Rishi Sunak. “The proposals we have put forward in this submission would help drive our recovery and create benefits for the whole country, not just London.”
While arguing that London – “the most unequal region in the UK” – not only needs “levelling up” as much as anywhere else, but has also been harder hit by the pandemic than elsewhere, Khan backs government ambitions to “level up parts of the country that have been left behind for far too long”, and acknowledges the “vital support” already provided to London.
“I understand the need to balance the national financial books,” he says. “I believe that this is best done by strategically investing in schemes that present clear opportunities for growth, will benefit communities and will drive recovery right across the UK. This is exactly what my detailed proposals would do.”
Highlights include £3.5 billion over three years for a “retrofit revolution” to decarbonise heating systems, cash for a fully zero emission bus fleet by 2030, and up to £1.5 billion a year to cover transport improvements including replacing the 50-year-old trains on the Bakerloo and Central lines, shoring up road infrastructure including the Westway and modernising Piccadilly line signalling.
Up to £100 million would go towards site preparation for 9,000 new homes at Old Oak Common, which falls within the powers of a mayoral development corporation, and £5 million would pay for detailed planning work on the Docklands Light Rail extension to Thamesmead – a £1 billion scheme supporting 28,000 new homes in east London.
Skills training would be boosted through an increased adult education budget of £410 million a year, £56 million over three years would be put towards supporting international tourism – a need highlighted at a London Assembly committee meeting yesterday – and City Hall should take over regeneration and jobs schemes previously provided through European funding.
City Hall is also seeking support for the flagship East Bank development on the Olympics site, a new hub for institutions including the BBC, Sadlers Wells, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the London College of Fashion, now needing help to meet “an estimated £35.6 million of Covid-induced cost pressures”.
Meanwhile the spending review submission from London Councils, which represents all of the capital’s local authorities, is highlighting concerns that London is now the “epicentre” of homelessness, accounting for two-thirds of all homelessness in England.
With some 250,000 Londoners currently on council house waiting lists and 165,000 living in temporary accommodation, more cash for social homes is urgently needed, the councils say.
“Boroughs are determined to turn this situation around, but for too long we’ve lacked the resources required to build housing at mass scale. Giving boroughs these resources is crucial for tackling homelessness and will be a major boost to the post-pandemic economic recovery,” said leader of Barking & Dagenham council Darren Rodwell, who chair’s the cross-party group’s housing committee.
The outcome of the spending review, setting government revenue and capital spending through to April 2025, will be announced on October 27.
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