• Tuesday, July 05, 2022

HEADLINE STORY

Sadiq Khan takes voluntary pay cut amid fears of ‘another era of austerity’

London Mayor Sadiq Khan (Photo: Jack Taylor/Getty Images).

By: Eastern Eye Staff

SADIQ KHAN announced on Wednesday (17) that he will take a 10 per cent pay cut due to a budget crisis caused by the coronavirus outbreak, as he urged the UK government to help stretched local authorities.

The London mayor said the capital faces a budget shortfall of nearly £500 million over the next two years because of an “unprecedented” income loss from the crisis.

Khan warned he could be forced to make cuts to police, fire and transport services without additional funding from the government, which he accused of risking “a new era of austerity”.

“Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on London’s public finances,” he said in a statement, warning many local authorities across the country were in a similar position.

“I will do everything in my power to persuade ministers not to force another era of austerity on local and regional government.

“It’s only right that I should volunteer for an immediate pay cut in these extremely difficult circumstances.”

Taking a cut on his £152,734-a-year salary, Khan said he would freeze the wages of his 15 direct appointments given the £493-million budget shortfall forecast.

Like most local authorities, the London mayor is funded through government grants and income from sources such as transport fares.

‘Return to austerity’

Funding for them from the British government has fallen dramatically over the last decade under the so-called austerity policies of the ruling Conservatives brought in after the 2008 global financial crash.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government says it has boosted their finances during the pandemic, but is facing its own mounting bill for various emergency virus response policies for workers.

Meanwhile, the government is facing unprecedented falls in revenues due to the nationwide lockdown introduced in late March and now being gradually eased.

Britain’s economy has crashed spectacularly, shrinking by one-fifth in size during April as unemployment has surged and it heads into recession.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development last week predicted the UK economy was on course to shrink by more than 11 per cent in 2020 because of Covid-19.

Amid the grim economic picture, other regional and local leaders have echoed Khan’s call for extra funding to cope.

The devolved government in Scotland, which was given tax-raising powers when it was created in the late 1990s, warned this month of a possible “return to austerity”.

It wants increased borrowing powers, allowing it to take on debt, to fund its Covid-19 response.

Eastern Eye

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