Responding to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, Rob Whitehead, Director of Strategic Development at Centre for London, said:
“In today’s Autumn Statement, the Chancellor has laid out measures that will make things worse for many Londoners. We now face renewed austerity to combat the economic turmoil which has been a constant feature of this year, but this new strategy will itself cause trouble for millions of Londoners on low and modest incomes.Spending cuts
The prospect of further cuts in London after a decade of austerity will worry the city’s leaders, given the scale of challenges that London continues to face.
Spending cuts are especially damaging in London as so many people are already struggling with high housing costs and poorly insulated homes.
Furthermore, the risk of cutting police expenditure is that this hinders the Metropolitan Police’s ability to tackle crime; the city depends on millions of people feeling safe enough to work, travel and study here.
The cost of living crisis has only worsened over the year, so today’s announcement that the annual cap on rises to council tax is being scrapped is deeply worrying, as council tax is a regressive tax which hits the poorest hardest.
Polling we conducted prior to the 2022 local elections revealed that council tax was the top voting priority for Londoners, a sure sign of how many have been feeling the squeeze to their budgets. Local authorities will themselves lack confidence that this proposal will be enough to continue delivering essential services for their communities. Ultimately, the money raised by additional council tax will not deliver the funding London’s councils need.Today’s tax rises will add to the burden caused by increasing bills and the cost of essentials, so we urgently need greater targeted support to protect those in precarious financial situations.
Benefits and minimum wage rise
We welcome the announcement that benefits and pensions will be uplifted in line with inflation. This is a lifeline for Londoners in poverty, who need all the support they can get to heat their homes and pay for food and travel around the city. The route out of poverty involves providing people with adequate income, so the rise in the national living wage is also good news, especially for those working in industries such as hospitality which are key for London’s recovery.
But the cost of living in London is higher than elsewhere in the UK, and we still need to see recognition of this from the government as part of their commitment to levelling up.
London needs the devolved powers to set benefits and minimum wages which fit the needs of the city and its people.”ENDS