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Boris launches manifesto on the economy with boost for apprenticeships and free schools

This morning Boris Johnson launched his latest manifesto - this time concerned with the economy.

Among the proposals is to establish "an independent London Funding Commission to examine the case for a Barnett style formula for London, and lobby Government to ensure London gets back in funding what it contributes to the national purse."

He will boost apprenticeships with a target of creating 1,000 new ones every week and a proposal to extend to apprentices over the age of 18 the same Transport for London travel discounts as students in full time education, with a 30 per cent discount on season tickets.

He will increase the number of Business Improvement Districts to fifty across London, focusing on town centres such as Bromley, Enfield, Richmond and Romford.

There is a section on "making London the best city to live in." The number of street trees planted he has planted will be increased to 20,000. He already got to 10,000 in his first four years. improve 300 acres of green space and work with boroughs to create 100 Pocket Parks across Greater London.

On free schools the manifesto says:

Under the Academies Act 2010, the Government has made it possible for new Free Schools to be established by groups of parents, teachers, charities, businesses, universities, trusts, religious or voluntary groups. There is a demand for Free Schools in London, with nine being opened in the capital last year, and a further 21  scheduled to open this year. Last September, I opened London’s first Free School – the West London Free School, based in Hammersmith, championed by Toby Young and local residents.

I have successfully lobbied, together with London’s boroughs, for extra Government funding for school places, with an extra £260 million being allocated to the capital. While Free School groups can apply for this capital funding, many are struggling to find suitable buildings in their area of choice. I will bring forward an early alteration to the London Plan to encourage Free Schools to be set up across London, and help groups overcome any planning obstacles.

I will also audit the GLA Group estate for surplus buildings which could be used as Free Schools. This would be implemented using the capital funding the Government has made available for new school places through the Free Schools programme. The result will be more good school places
for London – ten school sites could provide places for around 5,000 pupils, assuming a split of eight primary schools and two secondary schools.

Boris says:

"London has continued to make a net contribution to the UK even during the economic downturn. It is time to review the funding arrangements for London to ensure that London gets a fair share, recognising its significant contribution to the UK’s economy and tax base.

"So I will establish an independent London Funding Commission to examine the existing system, and to put forward revised funding arrangements for the capital."


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