Thursday 16 January 2020 6:01 am

City Hall's 300 per cent rise in office spending under Sadiq Khan queried

A threefold increase in City Hall office spending under Sadiq Khan has come under question, with one London Assembly member suggesting it could be “uncontrolled”.

The assembly’s Budget Committee today released its first response to the mayor’s 2020-21 budget, which details £17bn of public expenditure.

Read more: Sadiq Khan has increased press office spending by 26 per cent in four years

The report noted that Greater London Authority (GLA) office spending under Khan had dramatically increased from £240m in 2016-17 to £767 in 2020-21 – a 320 per cent rise.

Deputy committee chair Len Duvall said the committee was aware Khan has increased responsibilities compared to the previous mayor, but added it was “seeking assurances…that any uplift in spend is done with true awareness of the cost borne”.

A source on the committee told City A.M. the massive increase in office and staff costs needed to be scrutinised.

“It is true there are more GLA responsibilities now, but the growth in budgets looks a little bit uncontrolled,” they said.

“We have been asked to find efficiencies in the Assembly secretariat, so we think it is only fair to give that lots of scrutiny and avoid waste.”

A mayor of London spokesperson said the extra spending was necessary, after Khan was given increased powers over housing, skills, education and health.

They cited Khan’s Violence Reduction Unit, adult skills programmes and house-building initiatives as examples of this in practice.

“The Mayor makes no apologies whatsoever for putting the resources in place to ensure he can continue delivering real results in all of these priority areas,” they said.

“In many cases these additional staff have been funded by money the mayor has secured from the government.”

The committee also asked for improved transparency on the future viability of major transport projects.

Duvall said Transport for London (TfL) needed to be “much clearer” about any projects that are at risk of not going ahead in the next four years.

Read more: Crossrail boss: Elizabeth line could open in central London by summer 2021

Several high-profile transport projects – such as Crossrail 2, the Bakerloo line extension and a signalling upgrade on the Piccadilly line – are under a cloud, with no funding yet acquired from central government.

Khan’s spokesperson said TfL had “comprehensive monitoring” in place to assess the risks of future projects.