Sadiq Khan saving up for huge ‘pre-election spending spree’, say Tories

Susan Hall is standing for the Conservatives in the London mayoral election
Susan Hall is standing for the Conservatives in the London mayoral election - Julian Simmonds
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Sadiq Khan’s Conservative opponent Susan Hall has accused the London Mayor of “squirrelling away” vast sums to spend on the police and other services in a “pre-election spending spree”.

Mr Khan is thought to be preparing to announce a funding boost for the Metropolitan Police as part of a new budget this week.

The move comes after a draft document published last month showed a £512 million “uplift” to budgets, including free school meals, Transport for London and the Metropolitan Police.

Separately a government funding settlement finalised last week contained £66.5 million more funding than had been expected.

Ms Hall claimed that Mr Khan had “squirrelled away a staggering sum for a pre-election spending spree”.

She said: “And where has that money come from? Some is tax revenue, but some is from London’s reserves.

“For eight long years, Sadiq Khan has constantly moaned that the police needed more money, whipping out the begging bowl and asking for more cash from the Government. But he happens to ignore the pile of cash he was secretly stashing away.

“Cash that could have stopped criminals. Cash that could have prevented people becoming victims of crime.”

‘Complete nonsense’

A City Hall source said: “It’s complete nonsense to say money has been held back. Like every year, the final budget is dependent on the money we receive from business rates and the final local government settlement.”

A spokesman for the Mayor of London, said: “The Mayor’s budget will help to deliver a safer, fairer and greener London for everyone. This includes delivering free school meals for all state primary school children for another year, freezing TfL fares to make transport more affordable for millions of Londoners and investing record amounts in policing from City Hall. The Mayor will publish his final draft budget next week.”

In recent months polls have put Mr Khan as much as 20 points ahead of Ms Hall. However the Mayor has insisted he has “been in this business far too long” to believe the surveys.

Such a result in the election on May 2 would amount to the biggest margin of victory since the role was created in 2000.

However, a survey conducted in September 2023 by Redfield and Wilton Strategies showed Mr Khan winning just 33 per cent of the vote, with Ms Hall on 32 per cent.

Ms Hall has been capitalising on opposition to Mr Khan’s expansion of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez).

‘Extreme’ adverts

Labour, meanwhile, has been targeting voters in the capital with Facebook and Instagram advertisements, describing Ms Hall as “extreme”.

Last year, The Telegraph also revealed that Labour has been using paid advertisements to claim to voters in particular boroughs – including Islington and Camden – that the Conservatives “don’t want you to vote” and have attempted to “rig” the election.

The claims relate to the Conservatives’ decision to replace the system of ranking candidates in metropolitan mayoral elections with a first-past-the-post system akin to general elections.

When the Tories announced the changes in 2021 they said they were delivering on a manifesto commitment that would ensure that voters can “express a clear choice”.

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