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Sadiq Khan plans council tax hike to pay for police, Evening Standard 16th December

Sadiq Khan plans to put up council tax to cover the cost of keeping police numbers at around 32,000.

The Mayor revealed that City Hall’s share of the tax was increasing for the first time since the days of Ken Livingstone in response to funding cuts.

The move means the average band D council tax bill in London would go up by about 8p a week from April — £4.50 a year. Even though the rise is small,  it will draw criticism from the Tories. 

Mr Khan blamed his predecessor Boris Johnson for taking the “reckless” decision to cut the police precept last year — ahead of the mayoral election.

The Government said yesterday that the Met’s budget next year would be £17.4 million lower than in 2015-16. Mr Khan told the Standard: “Nothing is more important to me than keeping Londoners safe — and that means maintaining the strategic target of 32,000 police officers. The Government has made it clear that they expect us to increase council tax by 8p a week and, reluctantly, I am left with no choice.”

But Conservative London Assembly member Steve O’Connell said: “It’s absurd that the mayor could attempt to blame his predecessor for his own inability to balance the books. 

“Boris was able to reduce council tax over his eight years – a move supported by Sadiq’s Labour colleagues - whilst maintaining police numbers.

“With his reckless spending announcements over the past seven months, this will likely be the first of many increases placed on the taxpayer.

"Londoners will end up paying for the mayor’s multiple irresponsible and publicity-seeking commitments.”

Mr Johnson announced the first-ever reduction in the mayoral share of council tax in 2012, having frozen it during his first term, and cut it 10 per cent over the course of his second term. Critics said the saving was not enough to “buy a chicken from Tesco” but he said it amounted to £500 for the average Londoner over his eight years in charge.

The Government has warned there could be further reductions to funding for the Met next year as a result of changes to the police funding formula. It leaves the force facing a total funding black hole of £420 million until 2021: reducing officer numbers considerably is one way in which it could consider plugging the gap. This is on top of the £600 million already cut since 2013.

Londoners pay on average £276 a year to the Mayor as part of annual council tax bills. His proposed increase would provide £11.2 million more to the Met.

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