London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s proposed GLA budget for the coming year was voted down by Assembly members today.
But with no amendments agreed, the Assembly is still deemed to have approved the document, with a final draft to be considered on February 25.
The budget includes plans to raise the mayoral portion of council tax by 9.5 per cent to make up for shortfalls in TfL and Metropolitan Police funds, with the GLA facing cuts of up to £493 million.
Assembly members voted 13 to 11 against approving it, with only members of the London Labour Party voting in favour.
Conservative Assembly Member Susan Hall, who chairs the budget and performance committee, described Sadiq Khan’s proposed budget as “half-baked” and suggested that it lacked sufficient detail to be agreed on today.
Ms Hall said: “London deserves a recovery budget, a bold budget, a budget that maps new ways to restore the old ways. However, this is not that budget.”
She added: “Whereas the other functional bodies deliver traditional budgets, the mayor has adopted a wobbly, sort of ‘wait and see’ approach. We hope to get a better idea of his exact spending in February.”
A motion proposed by the Conservatives that called on the mayor to rethink his budget and have more of a “vision for what London can achieve” was voted down by Assembly members.
The Conservatives were challenged by Labour’s Dr Onkar Sahota, who claimed they were simply looking to criticise Sadiq Khan.
Dr Sahota said: “They’re putting forward a motion just criticising the mayor, not having come across another alternative budget of how to help London through this crisis we are in.”
The only amendment to the mayor’s budget was proposed by Caroline Russell and Sian Berry of the Green Party, though it too was voted down.
They made several suggestions for additional income streams and how they might be spent, including an additional increase of 0.3 per cent, or 41p a year, on the already planned increase of the mayor’s portion of council tax.
This would, they said, bring in an additional £1.2 million which the amendment proposed would go towards tackling rough sleeping by providing beds for under 25s.
The amendment also proposed up to £1 billion of spending on 2,000 new homes for key workers in London over several years, having identified an initial £400 million of available housing funding that could provide 907 homes.
Despite several members expressing a desire to engage on some of the issues brought up by the Greens’ amendment, it was defeated by 22 votes to two.
The Assembly will see Sadiq Khan’s final draft budget on February 25, where a two-thirds majority will be required to make any amendments.
However, both Susan Hall and Labour’s Len Duvall suggested that an emergency meeting could be held at a later date if more details emerged about exact spending plans, to ensure proper scrutiny is carried out.