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CITYMATTERS.LONDON 13

CITYMATTERS.LONDON 13 October - 09 November 2021 | Page 3 NEWS subscribe to our newsletter at citymatters.london TfL funding gap needs £1.7bn Government plug TFL requires an additional £1.7 billion of emergency Government funding to keep London’s transport network running until 2023, according to a new document, writes Joe Talora, Local Democracy Reporter. The figure was quoted in TfL’s submission to the Chancellor’s spending review, which sets the Government’s capital budgets for the next four years. While £1.7 billion of emergency funding will be required for the next two financial years, TfL has outlined how a “modest” Government investment from then on could help support country-wide economic recovery while contributing to climate and levelling-up goals. The document sent by TfL ahead of the spending review outlines how an additional £1 billion to £1.5 billion a year from the Government would allow TfL to move forward with projects such as the modernisation of signaling on the Picadilly Line and the electrification of London buses. This could support up to 3,000 green jobs across the UK, according to TfL. TfL Commissioner Andy Byford has said that London “stands ready and willing to work with the Government” to ensure a strong economic recovery from the pandemic. Byford said: “We are playing a central role in the economic recovery of London and the UK; supporting people as they return to London’s workplaces, businesses, educational institutions, retail and culture, and delivering vital infrastructure and services that support new homes and jobs. “Frequent, reliable and green public transport is key to a sustainable recovery from the pandemic. “Public transport investment in London contributes directly to the Government’s aims around an infrastructure-led recovery, supported by shovel-ready projects and levelling up. “Fifty-five pence in every pound invested into maintaining and modernising London Underground is invested in companies outside of London through our extensive supply chain. With long term government Emergency funding investment over the coming years, we will be able to make significant strides towards meeting all of our shared ambitions. London’s economic recovery and that of the wider UK are inextricably linked – and London’s recovery is, in turn, dependent on the efficiency of the transport system.” But as part of its plans to achieve financial sustainability by 2023, TfL has revealed that plans for a Greater London Boundary Charge are still on the table. The proposed toll would charge motorists £3.50 for driving into London from outside the capital, rising to £5.50 for more polluting vehicles. The charge is being suggested as a way of raising the £500 million of yearly revenue that TfL requires, with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps having shot down Sadiq Khan’s request to have control over Vehicle Excise Duty raised in London. Earlier this year, representatives from all parties on the London Assembly signed a letter calling on the Transport Secretary to devolve Vehicle Excise Duty to London. It’s always the time to talk mental health HOW often do you tell people that you’re fine... when perhaps, you’re not? writes Catherine McGuinness, City of London Policy Chair. Some people go onto auto-pilot as they tackle their daily routine. Smiling all the time or, at least, wearing a blank face to cover up their true feelings. According to mental health charity Mind, one in four of us in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year, with one in six of people in England suffering from anxiety or depression in any given week. And let me be very clear: there is no shame in admitting to yourself that your mental health is suffering, and certainly not in telling someone that you are not feeling well. Our mental health is fluid and it fluctuates, in the same way that our physical health does. The Mental Health Foundation puts it very well: “You may bounce back from a setback, while someone else may feel weighed down by it for a long time. Your mental health… can change as circumstances change and you move through different stages of your life.” The foundation has been championing World Mental Health Day, taking as its theme ‘Mental Health in an Unequal World’. Inequalities have a huge impact on the likelihood that someone will experience poor mental health, as well as its severity. According to Government statistics, some groups of people who were already more at risk of experiencing poor mental health prior to the pandemic – such as women and young adults – were more likely than the general population to suffer from deteriorating symptoms during the pandemic. And as we know, the pandemic caused huge disruption to the provision of health and social care services. For our part, the City of London Corporation is helping workers, residents and students in the Square Mile to access support. For example, our Business Healthy network (businesshealthy.org) offers free resources, information, and signposting on mental health and wellbeing City firms to share with their workforce. There are plenty of other resources – most of them, free - that are accessible via the City Corporation’s ‘Mental Health’ webpage (cityoflondon.gov.uk/releasethepressure), including the much lauded and awardwinning Dragon Café in the City. Described recently by one library user as “vital” during their “incredibly stressful” working from home routine, I find this type of feedback hugely encouraging and testament to the hard work and dedication of the libraries’ staff. And I would argue that returning to the physical workplace can have a positive effect on people’s mental health, as well as team morale, creativity and networking opportunities. After nearly a year-and-a-half of working from home, doesn’t it feel good to be back in a shared space with colleagues that you haven’t seen in the flesh for so long? We are talking increasingly more about our mental health these days, but the stigma remains, and that prevents others from opening up. My colleagues will continue to support those in need and of course, organisations like Samaritans (116 123) and Good Thinking continue to do sterling work. Whether it’s to a stranger, a colleague, family member, or a friend, talking about how you are feeling can be very helpful.

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