In tough times, London needs a Mayor whose first instinct is to cut tax whenever possible. By cutting the millions spent on Ken Livingstone's pet political causes and dedicating the last three years to turning around London's finances after years of waste, Boris Johnson will cut his share of council tax for the first time in the history of the mayoralty. This means that despite being in the teeth of a recession, investment in transport infrastructure has been protected, 1,000 more police are being put on the streets and council tax has been frozen every year so far.
Ken Livingstone has had a 30 year career of putting up taxes and wasting money. We should never forget that in 8 years as Mayor, he put up council tax by 152% only to waste the money on his pet political causes and cronies. If Ken Livingstone wins, taxes will go up again. We couldn't afford it during the good times, and we certainly cannot afford it now that times are tough. That's the choice at this election; low taxes under Boris Johnson or high taxes under Ken Livingstone.
The Mayor’s Council Tax more than doubled under Ken Livingstone. Under Ken Livingstone the Greater London Authority’s share of council tax bills in the 33 boroughs rose by 152 per cent over eight years (GLA, press release, link). This equates to £964 for an average household in London (Cumulative impact of increases between 2000/01 and 2007/08, using the Band D average equates to £963.58 over eight years. Figures can be found at GLA Website, ‘Budget archive’, link. A full consolidated table of data can be found at London Borough of Newham, ‘Agenda item 10 council Tax 2012’, 28 February 2011, p. 12 link).
Lets look at some examples of Ken's wastefulness:
In his last year as Mayor Ken Livingstone’s taxpayer funded cronies spent over £200,000 on foreign travel. Between April 2007 and March 2008 £200,925.44 was spent on foreign travel undertaken by Ken Livingstone as Mayor and his GLA officers. This included a £34,000 visit to India to ‘develop relationships’ with Deli City Government and the Maharashtra State (GLA, The Mayor’s Annual Report 2007/08, pp.39-44, link).
And Ken Livingstone spent £50,000 on his personal foreign travel. Londoners paid £46,328 over Ken Livingstone’s two terms as Mayor for his foreign travel. 2006/07 saw the biggest spend with £23,671 of taxpayers’ money going on Ken Livingstone’s jet setting (GLA, Statement of Accounts 2000/01 – 2007/08, (2000/01 - link, 2001/02 - link, 2002/03 - link, 2003/04 - link, 2004/05 - link. 2005/06 - link, 2006/07 - link, 2007/08 - link).
He thought nothing of spending £36,000 on one trip to Cuba. In November 2006 Ken Livingstone and four officials went to Cuba. Livingstone described the costs incurred during his visit as ‘modest and in line with the costs incurred on other mayoral trips.’ (BBC News, 14 November 2006, link) He also spent £20,500 on one lunch for Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. (GLA, Mayor’s report to the Assembly,21st June 2006, link)
Londoners paid over £17,000 for Ken Livingstone’s cabs. Between 2000/01and 2007/08 Ken Livingstone claimed for £17,255.78 in taxi fares from the London tax payer (GLA, Statement of Accounts 2000/01 – 2007/08, (2000/01 - link, 2001/02 - link, 2002/03 - link, 2003/04 - link, 2004/05 - link. 2005/06 - link, 2006/07 - link, 2007/08 - link). This included a £260 taxi ride from Blackpool to London taken in October 2002. It was his second Blackpool to London taxi journey in a month (The Daily Telegraph, 2 October 2002, link).
Former TfL boss employed as a consultant was paid £3,200 a day for ‘not much’.Former transport commissioner Bob Kiley, who was employed as a consultant to TfL for £3,200 a day after leaving his full time job at City Hall, said: ‘If you ask me what I actually do to earn my consultancy, I’d have to tell you, in all honesty, “not much.’’’ (Evening Standard, 28 March 2007, link)
Almost £28 million on publicity. Over his two terms as London mayor, Ken Livingstone racked up a massive £27,997,000 bill for publicity. This included over £8.5 million on staff hired to work in publicity and over £4 million on advertising jobs all paid for by the London taxpayer. (GLA, Statement of Accounts, 2000/01, link; 2001/02, link; 2002/03, link; 2003/04 - link; 2004/05, link; 2005/06, link; 2006/07 - link; 2007/08, link)
£10,000 on the Morning Star. City Hall had a subscription for 40 copies of the Morning Star delivered every day - this cost the taxpayer £10,000 a year. (Iain Dale’s Diary, 9 May 2008, link)
Oh and guess what:
Ken Livingstone says he would increase council tax. 'I am never going to live in a world where someone with my policies gets an easy time from the media. I am going to increase your taxes and, of course, you don't want to vote for me.' (The Evening Standard, 13 July 2010, link)
Its simply a choice of spend now raise taxes now with Ken Livingstone or tax cuts and economic prudence with Boris Johnson. Actions speak louder than words. Where Ken wastes - Boris economises to make your money go further and delivers value for money.