London must not lose out to other regions in the Government’s ‘levelling up’ plans, a top Mayoral official has warned.
Sadiq Khan’s chief of staff David Bellamy said ministers needed to invest in the capital.
Boris Johnson unveiled a £5 billion cash boost to rebuild Britain’s economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday (30 June).
The Prime Minister pledged to “build, build, build” – investing in new homes, and deregulating planning to make the process easier.
The package speeds up investment promised in the wake of last year’s General Election, when ministers vowed to invest in the north of England and the regions.
But responding to the deal, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said the Government had “fundamentally failed to grasp the scale of the economic challenge ahead” for Britain.
He attacked Mr Johnson for “deciding what is best for local areas and cities” and called for more “meaningful devolution” across the country.
City Hall fears Government investment in the regions could be to the detriment of the capital.
Now Mr Bellamy has told the London Assembly any plans for investment must “absolutely include” vulnerable communities in the capital.
London boroughs disappeared from the list of England’s most deprived communities in the latest Government data published last year.
There were big improvements in Tower Hamlets, Lambeth, Islington and Haringey, with northern and coastal towns faring worse.
But half of London boroughs are still among the most deprived in the country, with no improvement in the past five years, analysis by think tank Centre for London shows.
More than a quarter of Londoners (28 per cent) live in poverty, according to the Trust for London’s annual report.
And while almost three quarters (74 per cent) of poor Londoners are working, Universal Credit claims have jumped 167 per cent during lockdown, compared to 126 per cent in the rest of England.
“Some of the most deprived areas of the country are in London and just looking at an overall average – which obviously is impacted by areas in London with significant wealth – fails those individuals,” Mr Bellamy said.
“You wouldn’t think that from the narrative you hear from the Government sometimes,” he added.
The Mayor’s chief of staff – who is originally from the north – said he and the Mayor by “obviously” supported investment in the regions.
“But we need to level up in London as well,” he added “We must consider all the people in this country as we look at the impact of the crisis, and that absolutely includes communities in London.”