TfL financial review must herald return of operating grant

Waterloo underground tube station escalators and walkway

TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, has demanded the Government-led review of Transport for London (TfL) finances supports the return of the capital's operating grant and protects jobs. 

Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, set out the terms of reference for the review into TfL’s future financial position and structure on Monday, following the imposition of a take it or leave it economic support package in May as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. 

The Review terms of reference include – 'review of the current fiscal support arrangements and income streams' – and also 'the identification of opportunities to deliver further efficiencies in the medium term in relation to operating costs, including but not limited to, workforce modernisation.' 

The removal of London’s operating grant – worth £700m a year – was agreed with the Conservative Government by Boris Johnson during his time as Mayor. 

Manuel Cortes said: 

“If the purpose of this review is to do what it says on the tin – namely ‘strengthening TfL’s future financial sustainability’ – then the only viable option is a return of the operating grant. 

“Neither Londoners nor transport workers should pay the price for a crisis caused by the pandemic and made much worse by the folly of withdrawing TfL's operating grant. 

“You don’t have to be a scientist to work out that the Tory Government's decision to make London the only global city without direct funding for public transport has been a disaster, one which stops ordinary Londoners getting around, but which now imperials our wider economic recovery. 

“Nor can the TfL review be a cover for job losses or poorer conditions, given that fact transport workers have been tireless on the frontline against this deadly virus and at a time when TfL has already seen over 2500 staff depart since 2016. 

“The Government must act swiftly at the conclusion of this review to reinstate the operating grant and give TfL the tools needed to keep London moving safely as we move out of the shadow of Covid-19.”