Cost of living crisis: Government must deliver ‘emergency budget’, urges Sadiq Khan

“We need the government to try and help us with an emergency budget to make sure fewer families experience poverty, deprivation and a lack of opportunities which lead to less crime.”

The Government must deliver an “emergency budget” to help Londoners through the cost of living crisis, mayor Sadiq Khan has urged.

It comes as crisis talks are set to take place between ministers and energy sector bosses today after the fuel price cap was forecast to hit more than £4,200 in January next year, with some predictions even reaching £5,000.

However, with prime minister Boris Johnson in the final weeks of his premiership, amidst a leadership contest between former chancellor Rishi Sunak and foreign secretary Liz Truss, No10 has insisted any major financial decisions must be left for his successors to make.

Speaking to LondonWorld during a visit to a community centre in Tottenham, Haringey, this week, Khan warned rising poverty could see an increase in violent crime levels, stabbings and even homicides across the capital.

Mayor Sadiq Khan meeting parents and youth workers at a community centre in Tottenham. Photo: LondonWorld

City Hall is aiming to support families through the winter, the mayor said, but he stressed that the government needs to take action.

“I’ve got to be honest, by ourselves we’re not going to be able to address the cost of living crisis - we need the government’s support,” he said.

“In my view, just like how violence isn’t inevitable, poverty isn’t inevitable.

“We need the government to try and help us with an emergency budget to make sure fewer families experience poverty, deprivation and a lack of opportunities which lead to less crime.”

Mayor Sadiq Khan, centre, with Tottenham MP David Lammy, right, and youth worker Obi Onyido, left. Photo: LondonWorld

During the visit, which saw Khan, Tottenham MP David Lammy and Met Police officers meet with young people and youth workers in a bid to highlight the risks of knife crime, he added: “Without excusing criminality, we know some of the drivers of violent crime are poverty, deprivation, lack of opportunities.

“A combination of the pandemic but also this cost of living crisis are going to exacerbate these issues - exacerbate poverty, exacerbate deprivation, and lead to fewer opportunities.

“They could lead to more unemployment and parents having to do not one job but two or three to make ends meet.

“We are worried that could lead to an undoing of the reduction in violent crime that we’ve seen over the last year - a reduction in homicides, gun crime, knife crime, and violent crime involving young people.”

Sadiq Khan visits Edmonton Eagles Amateur Boxing Club

Funding from City Hall is going towards almost 500 safer neighbourhood team officers in the Met, the mayor said, who are involved in youth engagement and diversion.

“We’re invested in town centre teams, the violent crime teams, and at the same time, we’re investing in young people,” he added.

“This is about deliberate, co-ordinated and well-funded partnerships between communities and the police, and also youth workers and police officers.

“We’re also supporting families by helping with their energy bills, grants to make their homes more energy efficient and make their bills smaller and also with the cost of living hub.”

Rishi Sunak has promised more help for vulnerable families

Khan also refused to be drawn on whether he preferred one Conservative leadership candidate over the other, saying instead that Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer had his full support.

He said: “I give my support to Keir Starmer. What I want is for whoever is the next prime minister to call a general election, because both of these candidates are a continuation of Boris Johnson’s policies.

“What the British public want is the choice of a fresh start and a general election. My worry is over the last few weeks we’ve seen more and more big promises that don’t address the big crisis facing our country.

“Whoever wins the mayor of London needs to work with to address the crisis.”

Gordon Brown has called for an emergency budget involving Boris Johnson and the candidates to replace him (Getty Images)

Khan added: “When I’ve listened to Gordon Brown over the last week about what he would do if he was prime minister or chancellor and I compare and contrast that with Boris Johnson, it’s heartbreaking.

“He’s checked out and demob happy.

“The next prime minister needs to work with London, businesses, energy companies.

“We can’t afford Londoners to be paying £4,00 in energy bills, parents skipping meals to feed their kids - that’s not on.”

Liz Truss has pledged to cut taxes

But he urged Londoners to be cautious if they were considering joining the Don’t Pay UK movement which is encouraging people to refuse to pay their energy bills this winter.

“The consequences in relation to not paying are quite serious,” he said. “Your credit rating, the action companies could take against you.

“Before you decide not to pay, be filly sighted of the consequences and please try and get help - we have invested in additional advisors at our cost of living hub and at Citizens Advice centres across London.

“I know it’s not enough and we are also lobbying the government for a rent freeze and in relation to VAT from energy bill, Universal Credit is going up by £20.”

Met Police officers told Sadiq Khan, London mayor, on patrol in Tottenham Hale. Photo: LondonWorld

While on the visit to the Engine Room community centre in Hale Village, Khan heard from young people about projects including football, girls’ empowerment and music schemes funded by the Bridge Renewal Trust, MyEnds and City Hall’s violence reduction unit (VRU).

Olivia Opara, 19, a director of Haringey Youth Advisory Board, a project management and local government advisory group, told the mayor: “In the past two to three years, we’ve done 22 projects across the borough and brought together hundreds of young people.

“We teach them how to manage, set up and recruit other young people.

“We’ve had young people who have gone onto Cambridge, the Ames Scholarship, other scholarships or who have gone on to make their own businesses.”

Olivia Opara, left, with Sadiq Khan, centre. Photo: LondonWorld

She added: “One young person now runs his own roller skating business in Tottenham - and others have gone onto work with Spurs or in accounting.

“We have a lot of young people who’ve gone onto bigger and better things.”

PC Eyahia Ahmed delivered a presentation on the dangers of knife crime to the group.

Khan told the meeting: “Every time somebody leaves their home with a knife, that’s a failure. Every young person who doesn’t get an apprenticeship, support, or mentoring, doesn’t go to university, or get a job, that’s a failure.”

Sadiq Khan and David Lammy joined youth leaders at the Engine Room. Photo: LondonWorld

He continued: “Let’s also thank youth workers. When I was growing up - I may not look like it, but I used to go to boxing.

“That, and local football and cricket clubs, were a lifeline to my brothers and me.

“Youth workers can transform lives and they transformed my life. You’re often a big brother or big sister figure, a surrogate mum or dad, a surrogate teacher.

“I know the hard work and I know you love these kids.”

While Tottenham MP and shadow foreign secretary David Lammy said: “it’s always good to have the mayor in Tottenham and for him to get a sense of the community we have here.

“One thing that always concerns me is that a lot of violent crime is happening between 3pm and midnight, after school, at the weekends, and sadly, during the summer holidays.

“Young people need things to do and they need things that lift their hopes and aspirations.

“You’d expect me to say this but we haven’t got enough here in Tottenham. We need more coming from central government. In the absence of that it’s hugely important we have the mayor’s engagement.”

Young people gathered at the Engine Room community centre for the event with City Hall and the Met Police. Photo: LondonWorld

He added: “I’m never satisfied with what’s going on. If I went to a barber shop in Tottenham they wouldn’t be satisfied either. It’s my job to bang the drum for our area.”

Supt Rhona Hunt, from the Met Police, said: “Violent crime is not simple, it’s incredibly complex and multi-faceted.

“Exploitation plays a really significant role and young people are also not to blame for the challenges we face in dealing with serious violent crime.

“We are coming to understand what drives it and we are really trying to work with and engage young people - they really get to the core of the issue and have insights into this.”

A HM Treasury spokesperson said: “We know that rising prices caused by global challenges are affecting how far people’s incomes go.

“We have continually taken action to help households by phasing in £37 billion worth of support throughout the year, which includes specific support to help people through the difficult winter ahead.”

They added: “Eight million of the most vulnerable households will see £1,200 extra support, provided in instalments across the year, and everyone will receive £400 over the winter to help with energy bills.

“That’s on top of action earlier this year including a record fuel duty cut and a National Insurance cut worth up to £330 a year for the typical employee."