The Mayor of Hackney has joined with two other local council leaders in a cross party fight to preserve public services in London.
Julius Pipe was one of three council leaders who sent a letter today to all London MPs, urging them to protect public services in view of the local government finance settlement next month.
The letter was also signed by Conservative councillor Edward Lister, leader of Wandsworth Council and Liberal Democrat councillor Sean Brennan, leader of Sutton Council stressing the danger of removing the ring fence from specific grants. It pointed out that while such a measure may provide flexibility, it will lead to massive distributional changes and some authorities may see this funding “simply disappear”.
Mr Pipe said: ”We are very concerned that the government has put little thought into how best to ensure funding is distributed fairly around the country, and we are deeply worried that London will be disproportionately hit. Our attempts to raise this with ministers have been met with short shrift.”
Earlier this month, Mr Pipe sent a letter to Eric Pickles, Communities Secretary, regarding the discrepancy in his figures about the upcoming cuts.
Mr Pickles had stated councils would not face the 20% cuts Mr Pipe had predicted. In his letter, Mr Pipe ‘asked where his figures were wrong’, and if they were not then ‘how would the government provide for what is missing’.
According to Mr Pipe, “nothing came back”.
Mr Pipe’s calculations were based on the Comprehensive Spending Review published in October and showed clearly that his borough might need £36m on top of the £26m his council had already saved for the upcoming year.
Commenting on the coalitions’ policy last Wednesday, Mr Pipe said his council should not be lectured on efficiency and that the government “is not bankrupt of cash but clearly bankrupt of ideas”.
Mr Pipe asked London MPs to “stand up for the capital”.
“Londoners need them to fight for their public services.”