Sadiq Khan urges the government to take steps as cost of living crisis grips the lives of many Londoners
– Image by Mark Thomas/Rex/Shutterstock
The poorest Londoners should get ‘essential’ energy costs covered by energy firms or the Government, Sadiq Khan has said – as he warns that the cost of living crisis is hitting London particularly hard, according to a MyLondon report.
It comes as a new report from City Hall finds that inflation is running around 1.5 percentage points higher in London than the national figure, driven by the soaring cost of rent and food.
Figures from Rightmove find that London rents are rising faster than anywhere else in the UK, surging as much as 16 per cent in the past year. Meanwhile, it is already high-paying sectors which are seeing the fastest wage growth in the capital, while wages in London hospitality have actually fallen by one per cent – a huge real-terms pay cut when inflation is taken into account. Sectors such as finance, ICT and science and technology have seen average pay grow by more an inflation-busting 17 per cent in London since 2019.
Research from YouGov published last week found that 20 per cent of lower-income Londoners have regularly or occasionally gone without food or essential items or relied on outside support in the last six months.
The number of Londoners being hit by the rising cost of living is risisng every month, with nearly a third saying they are ‘just about managing’ and almost one in five ‘financially struggling’. The figures are expected to get even starker unless radical action is taken, with latest forecasts showing that energy bills could hit a staggering £6,089 by next April.
But it is likely to spark claims of hypocrisy, as the employees of Khan have faced real-terms cuts since the pandemic. For the financial year 2021/22, City Hall employees earning less than £24,000 annually received a pay award of £250 – or just one per cent, while it was frozen for other workers. This April’s pay award was for a 3.2 per cent pay rise this year, while inflation is running at around 10 per cent.
The Mayor of London is calling on the Government to implement a raft of policies on the cost of living crisis for Londoners – using powers the Mayor doesn’t have. The calls include:
The introduction of an energy ‘Lifeline Tariff’ for the most vulnerable Londoners, providing the minimum energy needed for a household to function for free, with any charges kicking in only once a minimum use threshold had been met
Introducing a two-year rent freeze for London’s 2.4m private renters, which would act as a “first step” towards handing rent control powers to the Mayor. City Hall analysis shows a rent freeze in the capital over two years would save renters (and cost landlords) an average of £2,988
Extending the provision of free school meals to all primary school children during term-time, with free meal vouchers available for those in most need during the school holidays
Restoring the £20 Universal Credit uplift, which Ministers removed in September last year, which the Mayor says pushed 130,000 more Londoners into poverty. Mr Khan is also calling for all benefits to be raised in line with inflation
Khan said, “This new report shows in black and white that millions of low paid Londoners are living on the front line of the cost of living crisis. I’m doing all I can to support Londoners, but we need the Government to step up. This must include doing more on energy bills to ensure no one has to make the choice this winter of heating their home or eating, increasing benefits in line with inflation, and giving me the power to implement rent controls in London.
“Whoever becomes the next Prime Minister must make tackling the cost of living for Londoners – and people across the country – their top priority,” he added.
Conservative Party members are currently choosing between front-runner and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and ex-Chancellor Rishi Sunak. The result of the election is expected on September 5, just weeks before the next energy price surge comes into effect.