Another thing that stood out from the TfL numbers I found yesterday was how badly the finances of the Congestion Charge are going. I say stood out. I mean I spotted them because I was looking for them. They were actually buried on page 99. See below, click to enlarge.
TfL have restated them without saying so. In last year’s numbers they included Â£1.1 million of Capital financing charges and had done for the previous 3 years. This year they have mysteriously disappeared. They have also laid them out differently to make the surplus look bigger. The Mayor talks about a Â£120 million surplus but he can only make this ludicrous claim by ignoring indirect costs such as advertising (although how indirect can an Â£8.7 million campaign on the Western extension be?). The Audit Commission makes him bring indirect costs into the picture which bring his headline surplus down from Â£122 million to Â£89 million.
Bizzarely the income is down Â£1.7 million. You may remember that in 2005/6 30% of income came from fines. I can only think that due to the ability to pay next day and people’s changing behaviour this fines income has dropped away. Obviously it is a good thing if fewer people are picking up penalties.
As you might expect from out of control TfL costs are up. Up Â£16.6 million or 8.5%. The net effect of less income and more cost is that the surplus from this scheme is down a massive Â£18.3 million.
Few people paying their Â£8 a day realise that practically none of this cash is serving any good purpose. I have just updated the cummulative cash flow that I did for ConservativeHome to mark the fourth anniversary of the Congestion Charge. Previously I had used estimates for 2006/7. Now I can use TfL’s actual numbers. Income: Â£930 million. Cumulative surplus after over 4 years of operation: Â£14 million. See below, click to enlarge.