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Livingstone's false claims on Sky News debate

After last night's Sky News debate the Boris campaign have produced a list of the false claims made by Ken Livingstone during the one hour debate:

False claim 1:  London has the worst air quality in Europe.

Truth:  According to the European Union cities including Krakow, Stockholm and Zurich all have worse air quality than London.

False claim 2:  Ken Livingstone claimed that he can cut fares by 7 per cent, using the surplus from TfL, without affecting investment.

The truth:  In his own words Ken Livingstone has admitted that the surpluses at TfL are already allocated. Speaking about claims that TfL had an unused surplus when he was Mayor he told the London Assembly; ‘There has been some fascinating speculation in the press that I have a £500 million slush fund that I can spend between now and the election.  You know me; if I had it I would, but I do not.  There is the small matter of the need for TfL to balance its budget in law, and the balances we carry are all allocated against the range of projects coming forward.  If I were to start spending TfL’s reserves I would have to remove wonderful projects like the West London Tram and other issues from our list of future projects.’ 

False claim 3:  Only 56 affordable housing starts last year.

Truth: The London Development Database reports that there were actually 2,240 affordable starts over the same six month figures. (April and September 2011) 

False claim 4:  Ken Livingstone pays 35 per cent tax.

Truth:  The figures Ken Livingstone released omit over hundreds of thousand pounds worth of income – the actual rate of tax Ken Livingstone paid in 2010/11 could be as low as 14.5 per cent. The released figures show the income that did not go through his own company Silveta. In fact, in 2010/11 he was earning £238,646. In this year, he paid £34,661 in tax. As a percentage of earnings, this would be a tax rate of 14.5 per cent. This is lower than the basic rate of tax and lower than a City Hall cleaner pays.

False claim 5:  Ken Livingstone has released his tax returns.

Truth:  Over two weeks after promising Londoners he would, he has still not put out all his earnings. The incomplete figures he did release were not from his accountant – they were put together by one of his cronies.  It has emerged that the spreadsheet that Ken Livingstone released with his tax details on was put together by one his former advisers, Mark Watts.  Mark Watts was also named as one of the advisers who benefited from an average pay-off of £200,000 following Ken Livingstone losing office in 2008.

False claim 6:  Ken Livingstone will bring back EMA 

Truth:  The independent and authoritative Channel Four Fact Check blog has again concluded that Ken Livingstone’s claim is ‘fiction’.  The Blog states ‘Mr Livingstone does not have the power to automatically bring the EMA back to life’ .


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