Spring Budget 2023
Responding to the Spring Budget, Claire Harding, Research Director, Centre for London said:
“This Budget addresses some of the big issues which have been blocking Londoners from achieving their potential and holding businesses back. But there’s still no help for many of the city’s biggest challenges.
“The extension of the Energy Price Guarantee until summer is good news for those on lower incomes, but bills are still sky high.
Policymakers and Londoners might have hoped that the arrival of Spring would result in milder weather. But it was freezing this morning and many households are still dependent on their heating.
While this announcement will prevent the immediate risk of more Londoners falling into fuel poverty or having to get by in cold homes, it delays the problem rather than solving it. Without support to retrofit more homes, we risk a new cliff-edge for energy affordability in autumn.
Many people in London rent, and their landlords often won’t pay for better insulation or more efficient heating. Government needs to step in with a comprehensive programme of home retrofit, to cut bills and reduce carbon emissions.
“We welcome extra funding for childcare from age 1, as will parents and employers across the capital. London’s families face the highest childcare costs in the country and are less likely to have friends and family nearby who can help. We’re also pleased that government are making long-overdue changes to how people who get Universal Credit pay for childcare.
But this can’t be done on the cheap. It’s important the government ensures the rates paid to childcare providers reflect the real cost of provision, which in London can be higher than elsewhere.
Children don’t stop needing childcare aged 5, and cheaper childcare won’t be enough by itself to get as many parents into work. Government needs to treat childcare as national infrastructure, and support families by combining it with policies that encourage flexible working and consistent hours.
Fuel duty and transport
“Freezing fuel duty while pushing up public transport fares by 5.9% will have real impacts on the 42% of London’s households that don’t own a car and rely on tubes, buses and trains.
Making driving relatively cheaper, while public transport gets more expensive, won’t help us reach net zero by 2030. Instead, we need more investment in public transport. The lack of any new money for some of the city’s big schemes like the Bakerloo Line extension is notable by its absence.
Employment and economy
“To see London being ignored in the government’s list of areas shortlisted for investment zones to boost innovation is concerning. They should be making best use of the capital’s expertise and resources to support growth in every region of the UK, rather than level London down.
The bigger challenge for many London businesses is to do with workforce shortages. We need to see a rigorous skills strategy that prepares Londoners for the challenges of the future, particularly in facilitating the capital’s low-carbon economy.
It also needs to be easier for workers to live in London. The Budget has offered precious little to the thousands of households in the capital unable to afford the cost of their homes and rents. Without recognition of the housing crisis, we will see key workers driven out of London by soaring costs.”