Budget 2015 and a Budget for London

Ivan Massow London Budget

My priorities for London are efficient government, making sure we continue to have first-class policing, keeping the city moving, and the one thing mentioned above all others by Londoners - housing. I've spent the past year - and will spend the next year - telling people in articles like this exactly how I intend to bring this about.

So far through this blog, I've talked about many ideas - from a Hotel Tourist Levy to floating the idea of a Lottery for London, through to reform of the system developers use to A Better Way To House Londoners. I've of course looked back at the record of our current Mayor Boris Johnson.

Wednesday's Budget has given me a whole new set of tools to add to my existing plans. I can't wait to get stuck in using them. For now, these are my thoughts on George Osborne's plans for London.

A Budget For Growing London

The Chancellor, alongside Boris Johnson, has been immensely supportive of London's growth, and in particular the problem of housing. I welcome the Help to Buy and First Steps schemes, which have helped to fund the regeneration of housing estates and boosted investment in affordable housing. The plan for 20 new Housing Zones across the city, built exclusively on brownfield sites, is another step in the right direction. Construction in nine of the zones has already been approved, which is set to create 30,000 new homes alone.

What's more, the newly-formed the London Land Commission, a scheme to regenerate brownfield by encouraging government bodies to release land they don't need and to open them up for development, will enable me to create 400,000 new homes.

And this is just the beginning. The Chancellor's budget has given the Mayor of London even more opportunities to solve the housing problem. On top of an extra £1m for the London Land Commission, we see important initiatives being backed across the city. In the south, the Greater London Authority is spending £7m to support the development of the Croydon Growth Zone, an initiative that will unlock over 4,000 homes and more than 10,000 jobs. In the north, £97m will be spent to support the regeneration of Brent Cross, providing 7,500 homes and 27,000 jobs. The Chancellor's proposed Domesday Book will enable me to identify surplus public land. A high-profile example of this was Boris Johnson's selling off of Scotland Yard for development. This was a relatively small plot, when you consider that the NHS has 3.5 times the size of Hyde Park in estates in London. I won't be selling off this land, but will look at how this may provide a long-term income for the city.

The government has already helped prospective home owners through its Help to Buy scheme, which has allowed people to purchase homes with just a 5% deposit. But the government is now going further by introducing a Help to Buy ISA. People will now be able to open an ISA, save up to £200 a month towards their first home, and the government will boost it by 25%. That's a £50 bonus for every £200 people save, up to £3,000. Welcome news for people struggling with London's house prices.

But we can do more. I will use the new devolved powers to accelerate the provision of new homes by reducing planning delays. By cutting red tape, we can make it easier for people wanting to expand their homes to acquire planning permission. And, dare I say it, have the final say over the NIMBYism that's paralysing development over some of our boroughs.

Keeping London Moving As We Grow

The budget has also been helpful in allowing us to meet London's other challenges, none more so than keeping London moving efficiently. The Chancellor and the Mayor have already set out some exciting ideas, such as extending the operating hours of the Tube, and taking steps towards 24-hour operations on Overground lines by 2017. But the budget has helped even more. Transport for London is spending £16m on the development of the Croxley rail link, which will extend the Metropolitan Line on the Tube service to Watford Junction on the West Coast Main Line. Good news for commuters.

Another of my priorities is to keep London a magnet for technology and innovation, and the budget has given this a healthy boost, too. Most welcome is the Chancellor's support for the Francis Crick Institute, a world-class research centre currently being built in Euston, scheduled to open this year. With its budget of £100m being drawn chiefly from universities and charities, the Chancellor's pledge to invest up to £30m from the sale of the Medical Research Council is a step in the right direction. This will help support the 1,500 staff and cement its place as the leading biomedical research centre in Europe.

A London Budget

George Osborne's message for London was a welcome one. He's right in describing London as the global capital, and he's right in saying that we can't pull the nation up by pulling London down'. A successful London is key to a successful United Kingdom, and Londoners have every reason to be excited about the potential this budget will unlock. The Budget also gave Manchester the right to keep 100% of growth in local business rates and I want this for London too. Manchester has already negotiated control over its NHS spend. London is a powerhouse - we need that control and money to be re-invested in our communities.

Every year, the Mayor is charged with the task of presenting a Capital Spending Plan for each of the bodies that make up the GLA including TfL and the Mayor's office for Policing and Crime. This is an opportunity to showcase London to the world, as the Budget showcases the successes and future of the UK.

As the Chancellor states, London is a powerhouse - as Mayor I will make the Capital Spending Plan turned into a London Budget. We need to do two things - make more of a deal of the plans for the city, and boast about the things we do. Many of the city's key business and technology leaders will agree with me that we excel at so many things - but one of the things we could do better is shout about it on the international scene.

The Mayor is the figurehead of London at home and abroad - and as Mayor I will build upon the work and cooperation of Boris Johnson, and that of the government that Wednesday's budget starkly showed. I will also continually push to ensure that London is at the forefront of the Chancellor's mind each Budget Day. With a London Budget, showcasing the city and its potential - I will also present our city to Londoners and the world.

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