Government accused of ‘strangling life out of’ Transport for London despite deal

A union leader accused the Government of ‘strangling the life’ out of Transport for London.

25 February 2022

The Government has been accused of “strangling the life” out of Transport for London (TfL) despite announcing a new £200 million funding deal.

The announcement is the fourth funding settlement of the pandemic and takes Government support close to £5 billion.

The Government said the settlement, which runs until June 24, includes conditions to put TfL on track to financial sustainability by 2023 and the potential for a longer-term capital settlement “dependent on the mayor and TfL’s co-operation”.

But union leaders and opposition politicians criticised the move, made ahead of strikes next week by London Underground workers worried about their jobs, pay, pensions and working conditions.

Manuel Cortes, Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association general secretary, said: “The funding arrangement shows how the Government’s micromanagement of TfL is strangling the life out of it.

“TfL can’t make plans and is in a position of stagnation and decline under the Government’s oppressive approach.

“The Tory Government continues to fail to grasp the importance of transport to our economy and to all of our communities. The complete lack of capital funding from today’s deal will continue to hit TfL’s supply chains which sustain jobs across Britain.”

Labour’s London Assembly transport spokesperson Elly Baker said: “Another short-term sticking plaster deal for TfL, underpinned by punitive conditions, is disappointing.

“This is especially so when the Government has just revealed yet more no-strings-attached financial support for private train companies, which now totals close to £12 billion.

“Despite today’s announcement, Londoners still have the threat of significant bus and Tube service cuts hanging over their heads if the Government doesn’t come forward with a fair and long-term settlement in June.”

Darren Caplan, chief executive of the Railway Industry Association, said: “Today’s four-month extension does not help TfL or businesses to plan for the long term and it fails to address uncertainty around vital railway upgrades.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Over the past two years the Government has repeatedly shown its commitment to London and the transport network it depends upon by providing close to £5 billion in emergency funding.

Sadiq Khan
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was relieved about the funding (PA)

“These support packages must be fair to all taxpayers and the settlement agreed today provides enough to cover lost revenue from the pandemic while the mayor follows through on his promises to keep TfL on the path to financial sustainability by 2023.”

Andy Byford, London’s Transport Commissioner, said: “There is no UK recovery from the pandemic without a London recovery and there is no London recovery without a properly funded transport network in the capital.

“The mayor has already set out a range of proposals that will help support TfL’s financial sustainability in the future but it is essential that agreement is reached with Government on longer-term capital support during this funding period.

“This is crucial for the coming years if a period of the ‘managed decline’ of London’s transport network is to be avoided.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “While I welcome and am relieved about this funding, once again the Government has just provided a short-term funding deal that will only enable TfL to continue running transport services for a few more months.

“This agreement makes reference to future capital investment for TfL, but it’s essential that this quickly turns into a concrete commitment from the Government.

“The only way we will be able to avoid significant and damaging cuts to Tube and bus services is if the Government steps up and provides the longer-term capital funding TfL urgently needs.”

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