The Association of London Government distributes about £30 million in grants on behalf of London local authorities. For our borough this means broadly that we distribute about £1 million in grants and give another £1 million to the ALG to distribute on our behalf.
Since May this year when the London local elections changed the majority on the ALG, the ALG has been discussing the distribution of these grants. Most boroughs do not like having these decisions being taken out of their hands and would like to see this cash repatriated to the boroughs. The overhead of grants administration at the ALG is way too high as well.
The people that receive these grants are obviously up in arms and Mayor Livingstone sees this as an opportunity to get his hands on the cash. He loves using our taxes to buy our votes and here is another £30 million worth. According to a press release his PR army issued on Friday he has written to Ruth Kelly, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, to ask for the transfer of voluntary grants funding to the Mayor’s Office “in order to protect London-wide grants now under threat from cuts”. In other words give me the cash and I will spend it on buying votes like I did when I ran the GLC.
The Mayor’s dim press people make the mistake of putting a link to the list of grant recipients in their press release. The list goes a long way to destroying the case for this kind of central distribution. For one thing many of the recipients have the names of boroughs in their name – why can’t they be funded locally? For another too many are arts groups that need to sell tickets to real punters.