Len Duvall AM (Labour, Greenwich and Lewisham) is the leader of the Labour group on the London Assembly
The recent inflation report for July, that will be used for calculating rail fares across the country and transport fares across London – showing an inflation rate of 3.2% – makes grim reading for households who are already struggling.
In London private sector rents continue to rise above inflation and well above wage increases.
At the same time child care costs are on the up, with London parents on average spending more than £6,000 a year on a part-time childcare place in a nursery – putting even more pressure on working families.
The recent drought in the USA is expected to push food prices higher later this year and energy prices are also expected to continue their upward trend. We’ve just seen SSE raise their prices by 9 per cent. As always fuel rises take effect before the cold weather kicks in – just in time for the energy companies to cash in on our need to keep warm.
Some of these cost pressures could be tackled by the government investing in decent childcare provision, better regulation of the energy market, building enough housing and introducing rent regulation to help low income families in these difficult times.
Even if implemented today these changes would take time to have an impact and help household budgets. However, in London the Mayor controls transport fare levels. Boris Johnson’s stated policy is to raise transport fares in London at RPI plus 2%.
On his watch, transport fares have significantly increased, bus fares have gone up from 90p to £1.35 and weekly travelcards for zones 1-6 have risen by 20% to £53.40 – this means people are paying £457 extra each year just to get to work. The Mayor is chair of Transport for London and has it within his power to help Londoners who are struggling.
• Inflation is worse for the worst off 6 Nov 2011
• Miliband’s “squeezed middle” message gains ground 25 Mar 2011
• The challenges ahead in raising living standards 28 Feb 2011
• Miliband to warn of “cost of living crisis” 28 Feb 2011
• Time to think again about the way we measure inflation? 15 Feb 2011
Boris Johnson’s attention is already starting to shift from his job as Mayor of London to position himself nationally. As recently reported he is planning on going “part-time” after the Olympics. He needs to focus his full attention on his current job and use his position to stop his above inflation rises and help Londoners during this difficult period.
Our message to Mayor Johnson is simple: when you’re able to help and support people by easing the burden on household finances, you should.