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Boriscutting
This morning Boris Johnson launched the Cutting Waste and Council Tax chapter of his manifesto. It includes the pledge to cut the Council Tax precept by "at least" 10% over the next four years with at least some reduction each year. I was pleased that he chose my borough of Hammersmith and Fulham for the announcement. We had demonstrated over the last five years that it is possible to cut Council Tax while improving services.

For Special Constables the Council tax precept cut will be 50%.

Substantial savings will be achieved by shared services and joint procurement across the GLA Group as well as by abolishing the London Development Agency.

The Council Tax cut will be a good response to those who felt that the 1% cut this year is of no consequence or that Boris's policies lack a simple "retail offer" for voters.

Transparency will be enhanced with all spending items over £250 being made public across the GLA group. There will also be publication of the list of all GLA owned assets.

Boris says:

This election comes at a critical time. We are going through tough economic times, and Londoners are understandably concerned about their jobs and the cost of living. This is why my priorities over the last four years have been cutting waste and bureaucracy at City Hall and ensuring London taxpayer money is put where you want to see it spent. 

Every pound of Londoners’ money is precious, and should be spent in a clear, open and honest way on their priorities – creating jobs and making London safer.

When I was elected the entire City Hall budget was chaotic. My determination to end the waste and mismanagement of the previous Mayor has freed up the money to pay for a strong plan for London’s future. We are putting that money where Londoners want to see it spent, in spite of the very difficult financial circumstances.

Ken Livingstone presided over a discredited regime that squandered taxpayers’ money on self-publicity, his jaunts to Cuba and Venezuela, and accusations of cronyism. This tarnished the reputation of London and resulted in Londoners having little trust in the Mayoralty. I have worked hard to change that culture, stamping out waste and bringing transparency to spending.

I have cut £2 billion of waste across the GLA Group to free up investment for Londoners’ priorities, including putting 1,000 more police on London’s streets, working to create over 200,000 jobs, investing in the modernisation of the transport network, and above all, holding down council tax. I do not believe the Mayor should cost Londoners a penny more than necessary. Even in tough times, under my Mayoralty we have frozen the Mayor’s share of council tax every year and this year cut it – putting an average of £445 into the pockets of Londoners. This is in contrast to the 152 per cent hike in council tax by my predecessor – £964 from every average Band D household.

My financial prudence has also helped us secure a better deal from No 10, something which my predecessor would never have delivered. I have secured for City Hall £27.7 million from the Government for cutting the Mayor’s share of council tax this year on top of the £92.8 million awarded for freezing the precept previously – a total over £120 million to invest in services for Londoners.

Cutting waste and council tax

I have also led the way in openness and transparency, publishing every spending decision at City Hall over £500 and holding more Public Question Times than my predecessor.

In my four years, I have held almost twice as many public meetings as my predecessor held in 8 years. In addition, I frequently meet with Londoners from all walks of life. And by respecting locally elected councillors we have also rebuilt the strained relationship between the Mayoralty and the boroughs, and this stronger partnership is now delivering more for Londoners on their priorities.

I want to take London forward, to deliver even greater value and even more transparency for Londoners. Every pledge that I have made in this election is fully costed. So I will save a further £1.5 billion across the GLA Group in the coming year, bringing total savings since I was elected to £3.5 billion – freeing money for services by cutting waste, including at Transport for London to help me to keep fares low in the long term, without wrecking the urgently needed modernisation of the
network.

These savings and others mean that I will cut the Mayor’s share of council tax for every Londoner by at least 10 per cent over the next four years. This will be phased over the next four years, with a guaranteed cut every year.

And so Londoners can see exactly how this is spent, I will for the first time publish an itemised breakdown to show Londoners where the Mayor’s share of council tax is spent; and will call on boroughs to do the same. I am also determined to continue with the culture of transparency and openness I have introduced at City Hall. I will publish even more data on London Datastore so Londoners can see my progress on meeting my pledges. All GLA Group spending over £250, and the expenses of all senior staff, not just advisers, will be itemised online for the first time.

As your council tax bills show, we have made progress despite difficult times. At the Mayoral election on 3rd May this progress is at risk. The choice at this election is between taking London backwards to the years of waste and division or to go forward with my plan to cut council tax, cut waste, and make sure that every penny of public money is spent on Londoners priorities to make London the best big city to live in.

 

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