Londoners will shortly decide who they want to be the Mayor of London for the next four years.
Since the creation of the capital’s two-tier system of government in 2000 the boroughs have sought to work in an active partnership with the Mayor. The result is that the Mayor and the boroughs influence every aspect of government across London.
And while the outcome of the Mayoral election may be subject to much conjecture over the coming weeks, the key challenges London government faces are already well known.
Londoners cite housing as their number one concern and we need to build tens of thousands more new homes each year simply to keep pace with demand. Alongside new homes, London needs to rapidly upscale its infrastructure, including schools, hospitals and GPs, but also broadband access, green spaces and transport capacity, that all have a huge impact on the liveability of our city.
Maintaining and growing London’s economy is a critical task for London leaders and, in an increasingly competitive world, we need to ensure that investment in our schools is sufficient to continue to equip young people with the foundations that they need to thrive. As our population grows and people live longer we need to ensure older and vulnerable Londoners receive the care they need when they need it.
Both in their scale and in their complexity, the challenges facing London are unique. At a time of growing demand and ongoing public finance constraint, devolution and public service reform are not merely desirable but essential. That is why London Councils, in partnership with the Mayor, has been making the case for an ambitious new settlement across all tiers of government that can provide a sustainable solution.
Over the past four years the Mayor and the boroughs have worked together, and with partners across London and beyond, to promote the benefits of reform. We have argued that democratically accountable, locally delivered, integrated services offer the best solutions to meeting the challenges faced by a global city in the 21st century.
In September 2015, London Councils and the Mayor of London submitted joint proposals to government setting out a series of inter-related reforms that London government wishes to deliver to provide a sustainable solution to tackling the capital’s deep seated challenges.
This has been recognised by government in the areas of employment support, skills, health and fiscal devolution. These have been significant steps.
London Councils’ work programme in 2016/17 therefore reflects both the need to support our members in seizing the opportunities presented by an evolving landscape and to continue to make the case for greater and faster devolution to unlock the capital’s capacity to drive down costs and deliver more for London and for Londoners. Timely prevention to avoid the high costs of failure and local integration to maximise impact are most likely to succeed when they are designed and delivered at the town hall rather than Whitehall.
I look forward to working with you all in achieving our shared ambitions for London.