Life in London is about to get more expensive
The Spy unpicks the tax rises and fare hikes about to hit Londoners
Morning — here’s what we’ve spied in the capital on Thursday, February 9, 2023:
💸 Spare a thought for Croydon residents, who are facing a whopping 15% hike to their council tax as penance for poor handling of local finances. Risky property investments, overspending on social care and – let’s face it – austerity have blown a huge hole in the budget of Croydon council, which declared bankruptcy for the second time in three years in November. So to balance the books, the council’s been given special permission for a rise that amounts to an extra £234 a year or £4.50 a week for the average Croydon property. Ouch.
All Londoners will see rising costs from April though. Tube fares are going up by 6% – an extra £3.50 for weekly zone 1-4 travel – while mayor Sadiq Khan has unveiled a 10% rise in his share of council tax, amounting to 75p a week. Couple that with the expected 5% rise in every other borough’s council tax, and the Spy reckons the typical tube commuting Londoner will soon be at least £5 worse off a week. More if you live in a Band E property.
🚆 At least we’re getting something for our money — new trains are on the way to the DLR in 2024. Swanky PR photos abound of the upgraded carriages, which feature USB charging, air conditioning and a new turquoise colour scheme. Much cheerier news than revelations on Wednesday that tube drivers are apparently falling asleep at the wheel due to TfL’s “punishing” shift systems.
🚓 The Met has revealed another officer has been charged with sexual offences, a day after its ex-employee and serial rapist David Carrick was sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison. PC Jorden Brown was charged with rape and three charges of actual bodily harm on January 6 and is appearing in court next week. As to Carrick, who will be able to apply for parole in three decades when he is 78, his sentence is being reviewed by the Attorney General for being too lenient.
🏠 UK house prices are flatlining, but London’s are falling. The cost of buying the average home in the capital fell from £541,000 to £530,000 in January, while for the rest of the country it remained unchanged at £281,000, according to new data from lender Halifax. This matches what many expect to be a fiercer downturn in London, as the capital’s mega prices mean buyers need large mortgages, which are now getting hit by rate rises. Aside from houses becoming slightly less unaffordable but still unaffordable, perhaps a crash means fewer oligarchs buying up luxury property, as covered by the BBC this week in its deep dive into a new government register.
💨 Havering council is the latest local authority to refuse to co-operate on the planned expansion of London’s air pollution rules. The council is following the tactic of others in blocking the installation of new enforcement cameras needed for the ULEZ expansion in August. The Spy now counts 10 out of 32 councils opposing the plan, or 10 out of 24 when only counting boroughs not already fully covered by ULEZ. Khan is having better success on tackling air pollution elsewhere — his new planning guidance has effectively banned wood burners in new and refurbished buildings in London.
🎾 A “David versus Goliath” fight is underway to stop the expansion of Wimbledon tennis courts. Merton council is about to greenlight the building of 38 new courts for Wimbledon that are intended to bring the qualifying rounds to the tournament on site. Opponents fear for a neighbouring golf course and trees.
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