Sadiq Khan urges PM to grant support package for London

14 October 2020, 23:59

Sadiq Khan has called on the government to grant London greater financial support
Sadiq Khan has called on the government to grant London greater financial support. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Sadiq Khan has called on Boris Johnson to offer London a support package after the mayor suggested the capital could move up to the next local lockdown tier.

The Mayor of London warned that the city could be facing Tier 2 restrictions as early as this week, meaning there is a "high" transmission rate of coronavirus.

Mr Khan urged the government to clearly lay out the provisions it would give to businesses, the support it would offer to vulnerable Londoners and how it would maintain test and trace efforts in the capital.

In a letter to the prime minister, the mayor said that as London was "fast approaching" 100 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people, it was "likely" the capital would move up to the next alert Covid Alert Level.

The shift from "medium" to "high" would see the city's nine million residents banned from mixing indoors with other households, including in pubs and restaurants.

Read more: Sadiq Khan calls for two-week 'circuit breaker' national lockdown

Read more: Further Covid restrictions in London 'inevitable' soon, Khan warns

"It is vital London has the resources to engage, explain, encourage and enforce heightened restriction and support compliance," Mr Khan said in the letter.

"One London borough has done some specific work to estimate the cost of providing that service for six months from November onward and it is £300k over and above the allocation that was recently made to councils for support to compliance.

"I am aware that these are discussions that have taken place with other areas that have had restrictions in place and the London government would expect to have those discussions as well."

The mayor said the capital's "unique circumstances" must be mirrored in the approach and support offered.

Read more: Cases surge but Boris resists calls for lockdown 'misery'

Read more: UK reports another 19,724 coronavirus cases and 137 deaths

He added: "The capital was hit particularly hard during the first wave with many of our communities and particularly the BAME community, suffering disproportionately.

"In addition, many families live in overcrowded accommodation and face high levels of homelessness and rough sleeping.

"Our size and density present specific challenges, with the economic case for protecting businesses in the Central Activities Zone overwhelming."

Mr Khan warned that hundreds of thousands of jobs remain at risk in the capital which, he said, was why the government needs to provide clarity over provisions that would be offered to companies in the city.

He said it was "critical" that ministers resolve the funding position of Transport for London (TfL), while he also demanded a financial package for the network.

The mayor also demanded an immediate increase in testing capacity, a "redoubling" of efforts to ensure staff and residents are tested and more light to be shed on support for the vulnerable.

"I will continue to urge Londoners to be vigilant, follow the rules and exercise caution," he said in the letter.

"I accept that these new measures will impact on businesses and Londoners, but we have a joint responsibility to work together and do what we can to control this virus and save lives."

Mr Khan has previously insisted London be moved into higher restrictions despite rates varying across the capital.

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