The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today welcomed commitments by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, as the first steps towards a major devolution deal for London.
He welcomed the record £3.15bn devolution deal struck with Government to build 90,000 new affordable homes for Londoners. This is the largest sum of money ever secured by City Hall to deliver affordable housing.
Following negotiations with the Mayor, the Chancellor has also relaxed the rules around how City Hall can use this money, meaning the Mayor can now build new homes for low-cost rent, London Living Rent, and shared ownership between now and 2021.
Sadiq says he believes that today’s Autumn Statement signals the start of a long-term process of giving London government the control it needs to grow and “protect the capital’s economy from the current economic uncertainty”.
The Mayor, and London Councils, have been arguing that London needs a stronger voice in order to deal with the threats Brexit poses to key sectors of London’s economy like finance, higher education, housing, small businesses, culture and the creative industries.
In addition to more money for affordable homes, the Chancellor also announced devolution of adult skills funding to London from 2019-20; giving London more control over employment support services in the capital; and further investment in the London Local Enterprise Panel so it can continue to take a strategic view of the regeneration, employment and skills agenda for the capital.
However, Sadiq voiced his disappointment that the Government did not use the Autumn Statement to devolve to the capital some control over suburban rail services which he believes would have led to improved services for millions of passengers.
The Mayor said the most striking thing about the Autumn Statement is sheer scale of the economic challenge facing Britain in the aftermath of the EU referendum. The Office for Budgetary Responsibility has seriously downgraded its predictions for economic growth to just 1.4 per cent for next year, and says that growth won’t get back to pre-referendum levels until 2021.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I’m delighted that we today took the first steps towards a major new devolution deal for London. London has a bigger population than Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland combined, but we have far less control over how our city is run.
“The record-breaking affordable housing settlement means we can get on with the hard slog of building new genuinely affordable homes, but it won’t happen overnight – fixing the housing crisis will be a marathon and not a sprint.
“Of course we didn’t get everything we asked for today – securing more control for London will not happen overnight. I’m disappointed, for example, that the Chancellor didn’t devolve control of suburban railways in London. Commuters who rely on Southern, South-West and South-Eastern services are currently being ripped off with a terrible service. I hope the government will move on rail devolution sooner rather than later.”
London currently controls only seven per cent of funds raised in the city, compared to 50 per cent in New York and 70 per cent in Tokyo.”
The Mayor says he will now continue negotiations with the Treasury and Downing Street for a deal for London that focuses on further housing and skills devolution, fiscal devolution and control over public services including health and criminal justice.