Tory mayoral hopeful Shaun Bailey has vowed to take a 10 per cent pay cut and cap the salaries of his close political advisers if he defeats Sadiq Khan in the 2020 mayoral election.
Bailey, who was selected as the Tory choice for mayor last autumn, has pledged to tackle increasing staff costs at City Hall, which he claims have ballooned by £19m to £55m since Khan was elected mayor in May 2016.
Part of this will include a cap on the salary of deputy mayors, political advisers who sit in the mayoral cabinet. Khan's deputy mayors for housing, transport and planning all earned a pay rise in February this year and now earn £130,000. Bailey has said deputy mayors will earn no more than £125,000 during his first term, which is what Khan's advisers took home back in 2016.
Khan currently earns £146,084, a near £3,000 raise on 2016. His 15 political appointees, which include advisers and deputy mayors, earned a combined £1.8m in 2019.
Bailey told City A.M: “From my experience in two levels of government I know the bureaucracy takes its spending cues from their political masters. Leadership therefore means setting a good example, and my pay plan demonstrates I am serious about getting City Hall’s finances in order and prioritising spending towards the things Londoners are most concerned about, like policing."
Bailey claims Khan's political appointees have averaged a 4.3 per cent increase in salary from 2016 levels, while the three most senior political advisers have received an 8.25 per cent salary hike.
Bailey and the Conservative members of the London Assembly, which scrutinises the mayor, have hit out at Khan for overspending on PR firms such London & Partners, the mayor's promotional agency, which Bailey has vowed to scrap.
Bailey claims his cost-saving drive will save taxpayers over £200,000 per year, money that would then be redirected to the policing budget.
“While unelected political appointees have their place at City Hall, that place is not at the trough, and taxpayers should not be forced to pay for eye-watering salaries when that money could be better used elsewhere," he said. "I want good people, dedicated to serving London, but not at any cost.”
A spokesperson for Sadiq Khan said: "Shaun Bailey is resorting to political gimmicks to try and cover up the huge cuts to the Met police and youth services that he personally helped to implement as Downing Street adviser on youth and crime.
"Sadiq has already cut salaries for deputy mayors and senior staff compared to the previous Tory mayor and Sadiq has opted out of a GLA pension – actually saving London taxpayers more than Bailey's proposed change to the mayor's salary.
"Bailey's plans to cut the number of staff at the GLA will result in fewer council homes getting built, less action being taken to tackle toxic air pollution and fewer schemes to tackle the causes of violent crime. It's a pity he hasn't applied his idea of a 10 per cent cut to his London Assembly salary he's been picking up since 2016."
Bailey's pay pledges mark his first serious political pitch since he was hit with negative headlines last year over negative comments he made about ethnic minorities and women.
Last October a 2005 pamphlet resurfaced in which Bailey said multiculturalism "robs Britain of its community and that accommodating Muslims and Hindus would turn Britain into a "crime-riddled cess pool".
Bailey's language earned comparison with the 2016 mayoral campaign in which the Tory candidate Zac Goldsmith was accused of using "nasty and divisive" tactics against Khan by targeting Hindu voters with leaflets that suggested Khan would tax their jewellery.
He later apologised for the remarks, telling an audience at a Peoples’ Question Time event that he was “super sorry if I caused any kind of offence to people”.