By PAUL SPALDING
London Mayor Sadiq Khan is to cut his own pay by 10 per cent as part of his response to the financial crisis brought on by coronavirus.
Khan said he was taking an immediate reduction to his £152,734 salary, cutting it by almost £15,300. Pay for senior appointments at City Hall has also been frozen.
There has not yet been any similar “all in it together” gesture from the fats cats at Fisher’s Folly, the Croydon Council offices, where chief executive Jo Negrini receives at least £220,000 per year in her remuneration package. Negrini is one of three executives at Croydon Council who are paid more than £200,000.
Croydon’s 70 elected councillors are paid £1.5million a year in “special responsibility allowances”, ranging from the £56,000 doled out to council leader Tony “Bring It On” Newman, through the £45,000 or so per year paid to senior Labour cabinet members, down to the £12,000 paid to backbench councillors.
Already saddled with £1.5billion in debts before coronavirus, Croydon Council is now undergoing an emergency financial review, conducted under the leadership of a finance director from a neighbouring local authority, with a funding shortfall of more than £62million this year caused by the covid-19 emergency.
In announcing his own voluntary wage cut, Khan warned that a funding shortfall of almost £500million in the capital could have an impact on the Metropolitan Police, London Fire Brigade, Transport for London and the Greater London Authority.
Khan said that TfL’s fares income had “dropped by more than 90 per cent” and that local business rates and Council Tax income had “fallen off a cliff”, making this “the worst possible time for a return to austerity”.
Services run by City Hall will be asked to look for significant savings, and report back by the end of November.
Khan also warned that failure to act by the Government would jeopardise the Prime Minister’s campaign commitment to recruit 20,000 extra police officers.
“Unless ministers act, the current number of police officers will need to be reduced and it will be impossible to tackle youth violence or make the changes to the London Fire Brigade that are desperately needed after the awful Grenfell Tower tragedy,” the Labour Mayor said.
“I didn’t enter politics to administer government austerity, and I will do everything in my power to persuade ministers not to force another era of austerity on local and regional government.
“Whatever happens, I will protect the frontline services that Londoners depend on as much as possible – and it’s only right that I should volunteer for an immediate pay cut in these extremely difficult circumstances and continue not to take any pension contributions.”
A spokesperson for Boris Johnson’s government said London had been given an “unprecedented” support package to ensure essential services continued to run.
Khan said: “Londoners did the right thing to tackle covid-19 by following the rules, staying at home and helping to save lives.
“But now the government is punishing them with a new era of austerity. Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on London’s public finances, which were in great shape before the pandemic.”
In Croydon, senior Labour councillors are understood to have had discussions about cutting allowances.
Newman’s close ally, Paul Scott, in true capitalist style, is suggesting that all councillors, even those who receive just the bare minimum allowance, should take a cut. Together with his wife, Alison Butler, the deputy leader, Scott takes home nearly £100,000 per year in allowances.
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