Housing supply

Housing supply will collapse without TfL funding deal, warns Sadiq Khan

Mayor says government’s failure to protect capital’s transport networks is a ‘failure of duty’ to the country

Sadiq Khan has issued a fresh appeal to the government to provide sufficient long-term funding for Transport London claiming that housing supply as well as transport services will be damaged if a satisfactory agreement is not reached, and accused Boris Johnson’s administration of a ‘breach of duty’ to the country.

With the current short-term support agreement set to expire on December 11, the mayor says the construction of thousands of homes planned in parts of Barnet, Newham, Southwark, Greenwich and elsewhere would be at risk if money for new stations and are not available, as their supply depends on the improvement of local transport infrastructure.

Linking London’s economic recovery to that of the UK, Khan said that “failing to fund TfL adequately is a breach of duty by the government to our capital, the people of London and the country as a whole. There can be no national economic recovery without a recovery in London and there can be no recovery in London without a properly funded public transport network in the capital.

The town hall proposes a 6,000 housing scheme at Colindale station and a potential 30,000 new homes dependent on extensions of the Docklands Light Railway to Thamesmead and Beckton as examples of schemes which could be at risk if TfL were to embark on an approach of “managed decline”. to its networks, as indicated in a recent report by its finance committee.

Khan told the Center For London think tank’s annual conference last Tuesday that government officials had not even started talks with their TfL counterparts with just 11 days left to reach a new deal on this that time.

Exasperation with the government’s attitude towards TfL was also expressed in a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak from 80 London businesses and others, coordinated by the London First business group. He expresses ‘serious concerns’ that ‘a race to the bottom of the country’s most powerful economic engine would stunt the UK’s economic recovery’.

TfL is seeking additional support to keep services running until the end of the financial year next spring and around £1.2bn more for 2022/23, as well as funding for capital investments in technologies, tunnels and often aging buildings.

A slump in fare revenue, particularly at the start of the pandemic as Londoners followed government instructions to stay at home, has devastated the finances of the transport body, which is heavily dependent on passengers using its services. In October 2020, Johnson claimed that TfL’s financial difficulties were “entirely the responsibility” of Khan.

The government provided an initial £1.6billion in May 2020 and a potential further £1billion from the start of November last year, with that deal extended through March and mid-May this year. year. The current £1.1billion ‘settlement’ was approved in early June.

Each of these agreements came with a series of government conditions, ranging from reductions in tariff concessions, to increases in the level and hours of operation of congestion charging, to demands for further savings within the organization on top of those already achieved under Khan, down to demands to spend money on ‘active travel’ schemes favored by the Prime Minister’s transport adviser, former journalist Andrew Gilligan, who is believed to be heavily involved in the government’s management of TfL.

In June 2020, the Department for Transport commissioned a review of TfL’s finances by accountancy firm KPMG, but refused to publish it and allowed TfL Commissioner Andy Byford to see only part of it.

Responding to the letter to Sunak from business leaders, a government spokesman told The Sunday Times that “any support” for TfL will be provided “in a way that is fair to taxpayers across the country”. Government figures show that up to £40billion of tax collected in London is spent in other parts of the UK each year.

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