Budget reaction from London Councils - "it needed to go further"

  • By Gemma Kappala-R...

London Councils' response to the Budget, delivered on Wednesday 11 March 2020 by Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak.

Cllr Peter John OBE, Chair of London Councils, said:

“This Budget provided an emphatic response to COVID-19 and a much-needed boost to broader public sector investment, but it needed to go further to ensure London is able to deliver at maximum capacity to help power the national economy.

“Boroughs are playing an important role in tackling the spread of the coronavirus and we welcome additional hardship funding to support our most vulnerable residents. However, councils are still waiting for public health funding allocations for next year, which is having a huge impact on planning of day-to-day public health services.

“Many businesses in the capital will receive additional rates relief this year to help mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19. This is welcome, but is also just latest in a series of short-term fixes to a deeply flawed tax. We therefore welcome the Chancellor’s announcement of a genuinely fundamental review of business rates, to look at both real changes and alternatives – something we have long called for. 

“London faces the worst homelessness crisis in the country, so we’re relieved the government has listened to many of our housing policy concerns. Boroughs will certainly welcome a cheaper social housing borrowing rate, additional funding for affordable homes and a £1bn fire safety remediation fund, alongside funding to help rough sleepers, although we are yet to see the detail. 

“It was disappointing that the Chancellor did not announce any significant infrastructure schemes for London, which is growing fast and is set to reach 10 million people by 2035. Large scale transport, housing and health investment is essential to the smooth running of this city, especially for our residents and the 800,000 visitors who come here each day. 

“Much-needed measures to reduce carbon emissions - such as a tax on producers of plastic packaging and funding for EV charging hubs – were also included in the Budget. We’re keen to see more action on climate change ahead of COP26 in November. 

“With the Spending Review on the horizon, government must do more to recognise the vital role that London boroughs and other local authorities play in driving sustainable growth through increases in day-to-day budgets and more ambitious fiscal devolution.”