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Sadiq Khan announces council tax hike as Government 'refuses to properly fund' TfL
15 December 2021, 19:39
The Mayor of London has announced plans to raise council tax in London, after the government "refused to properly fund" public transport in the capital.
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Londoners now face a hike in tax of around £20 a year as Sadiq Khan declared he was "forced down this route" due to lack of funding for Transport for London (TfL).
The three-year hike in council tax is expected raise an estimated £172 million annually.
But the Department for Transport has previously insisted it has "repeatedly shown its commitment" to supporting TfL during the pandemic by providing "more than £4 billion in emergency funding".
Mr Khan also plans to increase the age of eligibility for free travel, using the 60+ pass, by 10 per cent each year over the next 12 years.
The new proposals also consider scrapping cheaper off-peak fares for Tube journeys between Zone 1 and Heathrow, and raise the cost of an Oyster card deposit from £5 to £7.
Whilst the new measures will help contribute towards the funding of TfL, warnings have been issued that public transport in the capital will face "significant cuts" incuding to bus and Tube services.
Mr Khan reiterated his call for the Government to "give back the £500 million Londoners pay every year in Vehicle Excise Duty", which is "currently used almost entirely to maintain roads outside London".
The Labour Mayor said: "The Government is still refusing to properly fund TfL, and ministers are effectively holding London to ransom, threatening to withhold all emergency funding unless even more significant additional revenue is raised from Londoners for TfL.
"These are on top of the changes forced upon London last year when short-term funding was first given."
He added that the pandemic is the "sole cause" of TfL's financial problems.
A previous funding agreement between the Government and TfL was due to expire on Saturday December 11, but was extended until Friday.
It comes as TfL recorded an 18 per cent reduction in the number of London Underground journeys made between the start of service and 10am on Monday compared with the same period last week, while bus usage declined by 6 per cent.
A spokesman for the transport body said: "The Government's decision to require people to work from home from today will naturally result in a drop in TfL's ridership.
"We continue to assess what impact this announcement has on overall ridership levels, and crucially our operating income which relies heavily on fares revenue."