Page last updated at 13:56 GMT, Wednesday, 10 September 2008 14:56 UK

Job cuts to save City Hall funds

City Hall
Mayor Boris Johnson said the GLA had doubled in size

London Mayor Boris Johnson has promised to save 1.8m by March 2009 by restructuring London's governing body, the Greater London Authority (GLA).

Mr Johnson said jobs would be cut at the GLA to achieve the target. Another 7.5m would be saved by 2010, he added.

He said he aimed to freeze the precept - the sum paid yearly to the GLA by London households - in 2009 because of the "serious financial squeeze".

The Labour Party said the planned cuts were "an act of smoke and mirrors".

'Sensitively-delivered redundancies'

Announcing the proposals at City Hall Mr Johnson said the GLA would become "more coherent, focused and will deliver better value" to taxpayers.

Mr Johnson said: "Over the past eight years, the GLA has achieved a great deal, not least because of the dedication, expertise and quality of its staff.

"But it has also doubled in size, spiralled in cost and grown incrementally so that it has lost sight of its key priorities.

"This reorganisation will ensure the GLA is more coherent, focused and will deliver better value for hard-pressed London taxpayers."

Boris Johnson
The mayor has announced a recruitment freeze

Four areas of the GLA will be reorganised - Communities; Development & Environment; Finance & Operations; and Corporate Affairs.

Managers have been asked to meet the savings targets over the next 18 months.

"Other savings will be achieved through reprioritising programme budgets, existing efficiency programmes and putting a freeze on all but essential recruitment," the mayor said.

"This will include the 100 vacancies currently on our books. Our expectation is that many of these may be deleted."

The redundancies would be "delivered sensitively", Mr Johnson added.

The mayor said the GLA precept, which has more than doubled to 309.92 in the past eight years, could be kept at the same figure next year.

This is nothing more than a well-spun re-launch of a failed mayoralty
Labour Party spokesman John Biggs

"The people of this city are feeling a serious financial squeeze. It is our job to deliver taxpayer value.

"That is why my budget guidance is that we work towards freezing the precept next year."

He also said there would be a separate team exclusively focused on the 2012 Olympics reporting to him.

The mayor said he had saved 1m since taking office, 500,000 of which came from "stopping my predecessor's plans for unnecessary growth".

Labour Party spokesman John Biggs said: "The mayor's figures are nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

"After four months of infighting, resignations, inaction and chaos, this is nothing more than a well-spun re-launch of a failed mayoralty."

Mike Tuffrey, from the Liberal Democrats, said: "We broadly welcome this direction of travel, which is something which we have been seeking from some years with the previous mayor.

"It's surprising that Mayor Boris Johnson's first big decision is to put fares (bus and Tube) up over inflation."

Green Party spokesman Darren Johnson said: "My worry is whether we will still have enough staff in this building to actually deliver the programmes to make London greener and more affordable."

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