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Ex-Mayor Livingstone

Mayor’s piggy bank

Yesterday the excellent Burning Our Money blog carried this story about the London Development Agency (LDA), otherwise known as the Mayor’s piggy bank.

The blog carries this extract from the LDA’s Corporate Plan, click to enlarge:

LDA 2007-8 output targets

Apparently in the areas of of Employment Support and Skills the LDA only aims to help BAME people or women. White men are not welcome. It is not clear whether the disabled quota can be white men or whether they also have to be either black or women to qualify for help.

Too much of the LDA’s £750 million budget for economic development, they are meant to be London’s economic development agency, is spent according to the Mayor’s whim hence the soubriquet “Mayor’s piggy bank”.

If you accepted that public money really could be used to promote economic development then you might think that the way to achieve this might be to try to back winners, or, if you thought that this was beyond the wit of civil servants, then maybe simply to raise up young people so that they are equipped to join the workforce. Unfortunately, this is not the main priority for the LDA.

One example of misuse is the £7 million given to the Tate 2 years ago, see here. Why does Tate Modern need help from the LDA when it is already the most visited tourist attraction in London with 4.9 million visitors? This is a national institution with an international reputation and it can look after itself.

Another example is £2.4 million thrown at the Tour de France Grand Depart last year. Again why did this bunch of drug cheats on wheels get cash that was supposed to raise up our young people?

Another £20 million has been taken out of the LDA for the Mayor’s London Youth Offer, ie the Mayor augmenting a central government programme. However laudable youth services might be, since when is this in the Mayor’s remit?