Ahead of the 2021 Autumn Budget, Nick Bowes, Chief Executive of Centre for London, said:
“With big pressures on the cost of living, a hole in Transport for London’s finances and a slower recovery than elsewhere in the country, the Government needs to help London through what is set to be a very tough winter. With unemployment still high in London, there needs to be a concerted effort to avoid this becoming entrenched, with investment in skills and training to ensure those seeking work can access the job opportunities available in the city. And with many Londoners forced to choose between heating and eating this winter as energy prices continue to soar, the Government should reverse the Universal Credit cuts now. Recent polling suggests that few voters would oppose keeping it at least for the hard winter month, and it’ll support levelling up those most in need.
“Levelling up is a laudable aim and one which Londoners support – but it mustn’t mean ignoring the city’s own substantial challenges of inequality. Nor must it risk levelling down the city, as this would endanger London’s huge economic output and the vast contribution made to the Treasury coffers which is crucial to help fund Government spend across the whole country. This also means ensuring local authorities have the funding they need to provide key services for Londoners but it also needs substantial and meaningful devolution. This Budget presents the Chancellor with a once in a lifetime opportunity to break the Whitehall stranglehold on the way the country is run. Levelling up will only succeed if local areas have the powers and financial freedoms to decide what works best for their area, not continually having to bid for pots of money controlled by officials in central Government.
“Public transport is particularly crucial to the city’s very functioning, and even more so at this delicate time of recovery from the pandemic. With the Government’s focus on increasing investment outside of London is to be welcomed, this mustn’t leave Transport for London without a fair and long-term financial settlement that could see bus and tub services slashed. Any deterioration in the system could undermine the city’s competitiveness as a place to run a business and leave the roads even more choked with traffic than before.
Notes to Editors
- Centre for London is the capital’s dedicated think tank. The Centre develops new solutions to London’s critical challenges and advocates for a fair and prosperous global city.