Sadiq Khan says he is preparing to increase the Council Tax he raises from Londoners by “around £20 a year” over the next three years and that Transport for London will have to make “significant cuts to bus and Tube services” in order to secure further emergency funding from the government as an alternative to further raising public transport fares.
In a statement issued this evening, the Mayor has accused ministers of “effectively holding London to ransom, threatening to withhold all emergency funding unless even more significant revenue is raised from Londoners for TfL”. City Hall says the government “has yet to propose a new agreement”.
With the government having already forced TfL to increase fares by more than the rate of inflation, Khan says “I refuse to hike up fares further as this would be unfair and counterproductive, discouraging Londoners from using public transport” and that he has therefore “been left with no alternative” but to bring in extra cash through Council Tax instead.
However, he adds that “there are some changes to fares structures and ticketing that we will have to make in order to meet the government’s demands” including “slowly increasing the age of eligibility” for free travel for over-60s funded by TfL – a concession introduced by Boris Johnson when he was Mayor – over the next 12 years.
The statement comes with two days of the six day extension to the current short-term funding deal remaining and includes a plea by the Mayor for ministers to “stop playing politics with an issue of such great national importance, and to start working with us in good faith so that we can agree a long-term funding deal that will protect London’s transport network – for the sake of the capital and the whole country”.
Khan says he does not want to increase Council Tax but has been “forced down this route by the government’s refusal to properly support TfL or to enable us to raise additional revenue fairly by devolving powers”. He underlines the government’s refusal to allow TfL to retain the estimated £500 million raised from car-owners in London each year, almost all of which is spent in other parts of the country.
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