Ken Livingstone has cliamed Londoners are under attack from the Government – with £5,625 worth of spending per Londoner to be cut over the next five years. The former Mayor of London says the Coalition’s drive to eradicate the deficit with the help of Boris Johnson will save £45billion in spending, with many services across the board either scrapped or limited.
Mr Livingstone, who is campaigning to be chosen as Labour’s candidate in the London Mayoral election, today launched the ‘Londoners can’t afford the cuts’ research document – showing the impact of the cuts on Londoners.
• Cuts to housing benefit allowance could leave up to 425,000 people at risk of losing their homes;
• One hundred thousand children are to miss out on free school meals;
• Cuts of 455 police officers and no guarantee of the future of 630 Neighbourhood Police teams;
• A loss of £1.2bn to local government budgets, among other universal and means-tested benefits.
On launching his campaign, he said:
“Wherever I go in London people tell me how much damage the cuts would do to their lives and the city we live in. That’s why I am launching this campaign today to stand up for Londoners and to defend the investment that delivers vital public services from Sure Start centres to Safer Neighbourhood Police Teams.
“It is vital that Labour’s candidate for Mayor sets out a progressive alternative to the cuts and does not accept the Tories agenda. We need a candidate who can stand up to Boris Johnson and David Cameron.”
“We must of course fight the Government’s cuts, protect frontline services and London’s vulnerable, but we also have to focus relentlessly on the future and implementing the changes needed in London to make it a world-beating city for the people who live here, for businesses and those who travel and look to London as a beacon in the world.”
Boris Johnson, however, hit back at recent criticism last week by citing the Government’s decision to go ahead with the £16 billion Crossrail project as proof he was standing up for Londoners; as the Financial Times reports:
The Department for Transport (DfT) has made a high priority of Crossrail because of its economic benefits, the fact that some spending has already taken place – creating stations at Canary Wharf and Tottenham Court Road – and that there is a large degree of private finance in place for the project.
Of the total £15.9bn funding package agreed in 2007, the DfT is only providing £5.5bn with the rest coming from Transport for London and from a business rate. A Treasury source said that there was now ‘no suggestion’ that Crossrail would be axed, although it could still be scaled back.
News that Crossrail is now considered safe from the brutal spending round will be applauded by business groups such as the CBI and London First. It will also prompt relief in City Hall, where mayor Boris Johnson has promised a “Stalingrad defence” of the scheme.
The project is set to carry 72,000 people an hour at peak time between Heathrow and Canary Wharf and from Thames Gateway to the City and West End.