Coronavirus ‘leaves £500m black hole in London’s finances’

Coronavirus 'leaves £500m black hole in London's finances'

Sadiq Khan Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Sadiq Khan has warned police and the fire brigade services will be cut without a government bailout

Coronavirus has left a £500m black hole in the capital's finances, the Mayor of London has said.

Sadiq Khan has warned that services including the police and fire brigade will need to be cut back without a government bailout.

The mayor will cut his own pay by 10% and freeze pay for his senior staff.

A government spokesperson said London had been given an "unprecedented" support package to ensure essential services continued to run.

However, Mr Khan said the government was "punishing" Londoners with a "new era of austerity".

"Unless ministers act, the current number of police officers will need to be reduced," he said.

"It will be impossible to tackle youth violence or make the changes to the London Fire Brigade that are desperately needed after the awful Grenfell Tower tragedy."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Front-line police services will be protected from any potential cuts, Sadiq Khan said

Mr Khan previously announced he would not receive any pension contributions from the Greater London Authority (GLA), which he said was "saving taxpayers 11%".

The Met Police, London Fire Brigade, Transport for London (TfL) and the GLA have a combined budget deficit of £493m over the next two years.

The hole is due to a forecast reduction in tax receipts from firms paying business rates and householders not able to keep up with council tax bills.

Services will be asked to look for significant savings, and report back by the end of November.

Mr Khan warned that failure to act by the government would jeopardise Prime Minister Boris Johnson's campaign commitment to recruit 20,000 extra police officers.

A government spokesperson said that the GLA had received £18.5m in emergency funding, in addition to last month's £1.6bn Transport for London bailout.

"This is on top of an increase in core spending power of over £88m to over £2.27bn.

"The Metropolitan Police is receiving £2.9bn in funding this financial year, the most substantial police funding increase since 2010.

"We are working on a comprehensive plan to ensure councils' financial sustainability over the year ahead and we will update as soon as we are able."

Image copyright Metropolitan Police Handout
Image caption The London Fire Brigade will be asked to look for savings by November

Shaun Bailey, the Conservative Party's candidate for mayor of London, said: "The Mayor will fool nobody with this political stunt.

"He bankrupted TfL and needed the Government to bail him out last month. Now he's trying to blame the Government for more of his financial negligence.

"It's time Sadiq Khan stopped playing politics and got a grip of his finances."

Original Article

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