Transport for London (TfL) faces a “funding cliff edge,” the government has been warned, after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt today failed to confirm future capital arrangements for the body in the Autumn Statement.
Rachel McLean, TfL’s chief finance officer, said it was “hugely disappointing that the government has not yet confirmed their share of the capital investment for transport in London that it has consistently acknowledged will be needed.”
“We are running out of time to plan sensibly for March 2024 and the government are putting our plans to grow ridership and support jobs and economic growth in London and across the country at risk.”
TfL has received a series of emergency funding deals from the Department for Transport to keep the network alive through the pandemic era, but the current arrangement will expire in March.
A cross-party group of 10 borough leaders and nine business groups wrote to the Chancellor and Transport Secretary Mark Harper ahead of the Autumn Statement, calling for clarity over its long-term capital funding arrangements amid concerns over job losses.
Kieron Williams, chair of the local authority partnership Central London Forward, which organised the letter, said today it was “deeply regrettable” the Chancellor had failed to give TfL certainty and warned of a looming “funding cliff edge”.
“Time is running out. The government must provide the long-term capital funding deal TfL needs, so we can keep our city moving, and invest in future growth,” he said.
John Dickie, chief executive of the lobby group BusinessLDN, said: “The failure to agree a long-term capital funding deal for Transport for London (TfL) is a case of politics trumping economics.”
“TfL needs the cash to invest in maintaining and upgrading the capital’s transport network to drive growth, support its supply chain across the country and keep London moving,” Dickie added.
The tube operator is currently only able to fund three quarters of its capital investment programme for 2024/25. It estimates an injection of around £500m to £600m annually will be required to maintain the network and invest in future growth.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan warned earlier this week it was “crucial” that certainty over TfL’s financial future was given in the Autumn Statement or it would “be forced to consider making significant reductions in its spending programmes.”
“Whether on TfL capital funding, desperately needed affordable housing or providing the Met Police with the funding it needs, today’s statement again fell woefully short,” Khan said.
The Treasury was approached for comment.