Boris Johnson published his nine point plan for Greater London on Saturday – a very clear blueprint for getting London through tough times.
Desperate to distract from Ken Livingstone’s own record of council tax hikes, cronies, scandal and waste, on Monday his campaign published a ‘rebuttal’ to Boris’s nine point plan.
As we have come to expect from Livingstone, all of the claims are either factually incorrect or grossly misleading.
In the text below, the Livingstone campaign claims are italicised, with the response below in bold.
1. Cutting waste at City Hall – freeing up £3.5bn for services.
This makes no sense – and Johnson himself has presided over rising waste, through high salaries:
The total budget for City Hall itself is just over £155 million per year, so it would take more than 22 years to find that order of savings from City Hall alone. (Page 6, pdf).
Incorrect. This is a narrow definition of ‘City Hall’ which does not include large bodies the Mayor is responsible for such as Transport for London and the soon to be abolished London Development Agency. The Mayor’s 2012-13 budget states: ‘Over the life of his administration, and after allowing for LDA savings arising from its abolition, the GLA Group will deliver savings of some £3.5bn’.
Under Boris Johnson the number of people earning more than £100,000 per year has almost doubled at City Hall, and many of them are part-timers like the Mayor himself.
Misleading. Boris Johnson has taken action on posts and pay at City Hall:
- Abolished Ken Livingstone’s LDA, which was spending £16.9 million a year on staff by 2008.
- Slashed bureaucracy by £30 million a year, through cutting 530 posts at the GLA, LDA and HCA since 2008.
- Froze the salaries of TfL bosses and slashed their bonus pot by £1 million in 2009.
In July 2010, Boris Johnson announced he would be saving £440 million per year (£1.76 billion over 4 years) by 2012/13 through sharing services and procurement across the GLA group. So far, the Mayor has managed to make savings of just £1.2 million per year.
Incorrect. The Mayor has already delivered savings of £2.1 billion over three years, an average of £700 million a year. The Mayor’s 2012-13 budget states: ‘For the period 2009-10 to 2011-12 TfL is estimated to have delivered savings of almost £1.8bn with the GLA and other functional bodies over £300m’.
2. Council tax freeze, putting £445 back in your pocket
The Tory Party claim that the council tax freeze has saved the average household £445 has already been demolished elsewhere. They have magicked this up by comparing Boris Johnson’s council tax freeze against imaginary council tax rises from Ken – so it’s not a new offer at all. In fact Ken has supported all the council tax freezes in the last four years, which makes this claim entirely bogus.
Incorrect. Boris Johnson has:
- Stopped Ken Livingstone’s annual increases in council tax. Ken Livingstone consistently increased the GLA’s share of the council tax during his eight years as Mayor, by an average of 12.58% a year. It total he put it up 152%. This equates to £963.58 for an average household in London
- Cut council tax by 16% in real terms. Boris Johnson froze the GLA’s share of the council tax in 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12, and is cutting the GLA’s share of the council tax by 1% in 2012-13.
- The difference between continuing with Ken Livingstone’s average annual increases in council tax and Boris Johnson’s council tax freeze and cut is £445 for a Band D property by the end of 2012-13.
Crucially, this is dressed up as a future pledge but refers back to a false claim about the last four years, not the next.
Incorrect. The full £445 saving will be realised more than a year from now, by 31 March 2013.
They use the average rise under Ken Livingstone in his eight years. The precept rose to fund an expansion in police numbers, which had been falling for a decade and rose by a third under Ken to more than 33,000. In Ken’s last year as Mayor, the precept rose by 4.8% as funding for police numbers was appropriate.
Misleading. If Ken Livingstone had saved £3.5 billion in wasteful GLA spending as Boris Johnson has done, he would not have needed to increase his share of the council tax by 152 per cent to fund more police. Boris Johnson is cutting his share of the council tax by 16 per cent in real terms, yet is still delivering 1,000 more police.
Ken and the Labour Party supported each of the council tax freezes in this Mayoral term. His whole pitch is to preserve the living standards of Londoners now they are really struggling.
Misleading. Ken Livingstone may have said he supported freezes in the council tax at the time, but his record speaks for itself:
- During his eight years as Mayor, he increased the GLA’s share of council tax bills by a total of 152%. This equates to £963.58 for an average household in London.
- As GLC leader in the 1980s, Ken Livingstone almost doubled the GLC precept from 21 pence to 39.7 pence, an increase of 89% in just three years.
- Despite saying they support it, the Labour Group on the London Assembly, which includes Livingstone’s deputy mayoral running mate Val Shawcross, refused to vote in support of the 2012/13 budget, which cut council tax.
- In July 2010, Ken Livingstone admitted to the Evening Standard: ‘I am never going to live in a world where someone with my policies gets an easy time from the media. I am going to increase your taxes and, of course, you don't want to vote for me."
3. Creating 200,000 new jobs over the next four years
In Ken’s eight years nearly 400,000 jobs were created.
Misleading. Despite 31 consecutive quarters of economic growth, and despite £3.2 billion spent by the LDA supposedly to create jobs, after eight years of Ken Livingstone there was hardly any impact on unemployment:
- 273,000 people were unemployed in London in May 2008, up from 271,000 in May 2000.
- 124,000 18-24 year-olds in London were not in education, employment or training (NEETs) in the second quarter of 2008, up more than 10% from 112,000 in the second quarter of 2000. The percentage of 18-24 year-olds NEETs increased from 15.8% to 16.5%.
- In 2008 43.3 per cent of 16 and 17 year-olds were unemployed, up from 39.6% in 2004, the start of his second term.
Net jobs growth under Johnson has been just 18,000 (3.824 million from 3.806 million in May 2008). A net 30,000 jobs have been lost in London since February 2011. At this rate of job losses, Johnson will have presided over no net job creation in London over four years, despite an expanding population.
Misleading. Employment is growing faster in London than the rest of the UK. Latest GLA figures show London’s annual employment growth increased from 1.0 per cent in Q2 2011 to 3.9 per cent in Q3 2011, whereas it fell from 0.0% to -0.4% across the whole of the UK.
There is no explanation of what these jobs are or how he would create them.
Incorrect. 200,000 jobs are being created in London over the next four years through the following schemes:
- Affordable housing: 100,000 jobs. Boris Johnson has pledged to build 55,000 affordable homes by 2015, creating 100,000 new jobs.
- Tube upgrades: 18,275 jobs. Boris Johnson has said that he will invest £4.6 billion in tube upgrades, creating 18,275 new jobs.
- Crossrail: 14,000 jobs. Boris Johnson has secured over £15.9 billion of investment in Crossrail, creating 14,000 new jobs in London.
- Olympic homes: 10,000 jobs. As a result of the London Olympics, 11,000 new homes are being built which will result in 10,000 jobs.
- Other schemes: 57,500 jobs. The remaining jobs will be created through a number of other schemes, including the Royal Docks Enterprise Zone, the Greenwich Peninsula development, the Mayor Regeneration Fund, the Northern Line extension and the Outer London Fund.
4. Making our streets and homes safer with 1,000 more police on the beat
In January this year Boris Johnson admitted on LBC that he had cut 1,700 police officers in the last two years.
According to the latest MOPC (Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime) figures, Boris Johnson has actually cut 1,833 police officers since March 2010. They were at 31,427 at the end of December 2011 (see pdf) having been at 33,260 in March 2010 (see Metropolitan Police Authority figures).
Misleading. Between the start and end of his first term as Mayor – 2008 to 2012 – Boris Johnson will have increased police numbers in London by 1,000.
5. Restoring 30 acres of green space and planting 20,000 street trees
This was a project begun by the London Development Agency and inherited by the Mayor. He allowed the LDA to be abolished, tasking its £300 million budget with it.
Incorrect. The very same LDA webpage linked to by Livingstone’s team clearly states that the project began in 2009 – well after Boris Johnson became Mayor.
More than 4,000 Londoners die unnecessarily a year from air pollution
Misleading. These figures refer to 2008 – the first half of which, Ken Livingstone was still in office.
Incorrect. Boris Johnson’s ‘response’ to deaths from air pollution is his comprehensive air quality strategy, Cleaning the air.
Delaying implementation of phase 3 of the Low Emissions Zone gave small businesses an essential reprieve in the middle of the economic downturn. Phase 3 would have hit vans and minibuses, many of which are owned by small businesses and charities.
6. Investing £221 million to transform local high streets
It is unclear where this figure has come from. Boris Johnson has £50 million over three years for his outer London fund and has allocated another £50 million for the regeneration of areas hit by the riots. No detail has been provided regarding where the additional £121 million is to come from.
Incorrect. The £221 million investment breaks down as:
- Outer London Fund: £50 million.
- Regeneration Fund: £50 million.
- London Enterprise Fund: £20 million.
- External Funding: £60 million.
- Growing Places Fund: £41 million.
7. Olympic legacy – 11,000 new homes and 10,000 new jobs
It was Ken Livingstone and a Labour government that won the Olympics in 2007 and put legacy plans in place to build thousands of new homes and create thousands of new jobs.
Incorrect. There was no concrete legacy plan when Ken Livingstone left office. It was Boris Johnson who drew up the Legacy Action Plan, which resulted, in 2009, in him setting up the Olympic Park Legacy Company.
There is cross-party criticism of the Mayor’s inability to deliver a more significant Games legacy, and basics – such as the ownership of the main Stratford stadium – have yet to be resolved.
Misleading. Boris Johnson has introduced financial discipline to the Olympics budget after costs almost quadrupled under Ken Livingstone. In 2005, the cost of the London Olympics stood at £2.4 billion. That figure doubled in under a year, and by March 2007 was over £9 billion
8. Reducing Tube delays, building Crossrail and orbital links to our suburbs. Extending the Bike Hire scheme
Tube delays have been ‘reduced’, by changing the definition so that trains can stop for nearly 15 minutes in the rush hour and it still isn’t a ‘severe delay’.
Incorrect. Channel 4 Factcheck have confirmed that on four separate measures – the number of stations closed for more than 15 minutes; the number of journeys delayed for more than 15 minutes; excess journey time in minutes and lost customer hours – there have been fewer delays on the Tube under Boris Johnson than under Ken Livingstone
Crossrail was lobbied for by Ken and the funding for it put in place in conjunction with the Labour government.
Incorrect. Despite the toughest financial conditions in years and uncertainty over all Government spending, Boris Johnson secured money for Crossrail in the 2010 Spending Review by working constructively with Ministers.
Orbital links were promised in Johnson’s 2008 manifesto (see Boris Johnson’s transport manifesto, pdf) and still haven’t happened.
Misleading. The London Overground orbital line will be complete by late 2012.
Because Johnson botched the bike hire scheme it cost at least £230 million, making it very difficult to extend its limited geographical coverage without huge additional cost.
Incorrect. Boris Johnson:
- Secured private funding to ensure Barclays Cycle Hire was successfully rolled out across central London in mid 2010.
- Is extending Cycle Hire to the east, taking in Bethnal Green, Bow, Canary Wharf and Mile End with 4,200 docking points and 2,000 more cycles across central London .
9. Securing a better deal for London from Number 10
The only deal Boris Johnson has from Number 10 is to text the prime minister and the chancellor when he goes ‘off reservation’ as a way to engineer fake rows to help them all out.
To secure a good deal, you have to meet and negotiate with people. But Johnson has met with bankers far more than government ministers.
The LDA (London Development Agency) was abolished and £300 million lost without a murmur.
In fact Johnson boasted that he had cut earlier and deeper than the coalition.
Boris Johnson failed to stand up to Number 10 over student fees, EMA, the NHS, rising VAT and cuts to London’s services.
Incorrect. Just three examples of Boris Johnson securing a better deal from Number 10 are:
- Secured full funding and construction started on the £15.9 billion Crossrail Project. Thanks to Boris Johnson, Crossrail will now create 14,000 jobs after Ken Livingstone spent years failing to persuade his own Government.
- Secured an extra £90 million to protect police numbers after the Olympics. Boris persuaded the Treasury to invest £90 million to keep police numbers at around 32,500 after the Olympics.
- Worked with No. 10 to deliver the Lane Rental scheme. The lane rental scheme will charge utility companies up to £2,500 a day to dig up roads at busy times. DfT has just tabled legislation for lane rental.
10. Where’s Point 10?
This looks like a ten point plan that has a point missing. Surely it should have been 10?
Maybe Johnson’s advisers said ‘raising fares again every year by 2% over RPI’ was a bad idea?
But this is what he has already committed to in the TfL Business Plan he has signed.
Misleading. Without limited fare increases, the Mayor would not be able to make the necessary investment in the Tube. Boris Johnson is investing £22 billion in transport infrastructure, including £6 billion in the Tube and £15.9 billion in Crossrail
The plan to improve the Tube network includes completing upgrades of the District, Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines, and Victoria station by 2018. This will improve capacity by 24% on the District line, 27% on the Metropolitan line and 65% on the Circle and Hammersmith & City line.