Government urged to give London power to pay for new infrastructure

London should be given the power to raise funds for major infrastructure projects, such as Crossrail 2, to allow it to compete with other major global cities, a think-tank has said.

Centre for London chief executive Nick Bowes said the capital should be given devolved powers similar to those seen in Paris or New York to allow it to press ahead with new schemes.

Speaking to City AM, Bowes said: “It’s not obvious how [projects like] Crossrail 2 will be funded unless the government is prepared to give London much more control over where it spends that money.”

The funding for Crossrail, which has been renamed the Elizabeth line, was met jointly by the Department for Transport and the devolved Transport for London (TfL). One of the main criticisms of the project from other UK regions is the scale of the investment, at £19bn, and why other UK cities do not get as much investment in their own transport infrastructure.

However, it has also been argued that London is a net contributor in taxes to central government, with a GDP of £450bn per year, which is within the top 10 European countries. Therefore, if London was given its own powers to keep locally paid taxes, many more infrastructure schemes could be built.

Crossrail 2 is currently on hold, but a number of other schemes, including the expansion of the British Library in St Pancras, have included major provisions for the new line if and when it is built.

The line has also been safeguarded from development, meaning that property owners looking to build would need to ensure any new structures did not interfere with the Crossrail 2 route.

Bowes said a city the size of London needed continuous investment to remain a top-tier global city: “There is a thing about London being this globally competitive city, which is a huge contributor to the country’s prosperity, and it does need constant investment to maintain […]

“There’s so little devolution in the UK – we’re still very dependent on central government funding.”

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