London housing crisis: “City Hall must directly build houses”
January 29th, 2014
A new report published today (Wednesday) calls on the Mayor of London to establish a London Housing Corporation (LHC) to directly build homes for Londoners. The new LHC would tackle the back log caused by developers deliberately restricting the supply of homes to keep prices high. The LHC would be run by Homes for London, a new body which would draw together all of the Mayor’s work on homes, land and planning to make sure housing is invested in as infrastructure, in the same was TfL does for transport.
The plans are drawn from a new report published today, Fair Housing, written by Tom Copley AM. The report’s survey reveals that 43% of Londoners spend between 25-50% of their take home pay on housing, and that 23% spend over 50% of their take home pay on housing. The proposals will be formally presented to the Mayor at today’s Greater London Authority Budget meeting.
The recommendations in the report, which will be formally presented to the Mayor today, cover a range of measures to ease the cost of living crisis hitting Londoners and improve standards. These include:
- Creating a ‘Decent Homes Fund’ that provides low-cost loans for landlords bring London’s stock of privately rented accommodation up to a decent standard.
- Establishing a ‘London Bad Landlords Register’ and a private tenants ‘Know Your Rights’ website
- Driving forward housing supply by reorganising the work of the GLA Land and Housing Directorate into a new body called Homes for London.
- Establishing a London Housing Corporation, which would borrow against the GLA’s revenue stream to rapidly expand housing supply by directly commissioning new homes, and encourage institutional investment from pension funds
- Lobby the government to increase investment in affordable housing.
Tom Copley AM, London Assembly Labour Housing spokesperson, said:
“Today’s plans show that the Mayor has the scope to take decisive action to improve standards in the private rented sector, and also significantly increase the housing supply in London. By establishing a London Housing Corporation Boris could help fix the broken market for housing supply. Developers are deliberately slowing down the availability of new properties to drive up prices. It is time the Mayor took a stand and used his considerable financial firepower to directly build the houses Londoners so urgently need.
“The new London Housing Corporation would work with councils, housing associations and private developers to build truly mixed communities and learn from the mistakes of the mass mono-tenure estates of the 60s and 70s. The Mayor is currently falling well short of his house building targets. If London has any hope of meeting the demand for housing then he must take decisive action.
“The Mayor’s new house building proposals say London must build 42,000 homes a year, but his own research shows the real need is actually up to 62,000. Boris has overseen a collapse in house building – numbers have been falling and in 2012/2013 there were only 18,000 new homes completed.”
Boris Johnson did pledge to set up Homes for London in 2012, but backed down quickly afterwards by simply renaming his advisory group as ‘Homes for London’.
- Tom Copley is a Labour city-wide member of the London Assembly.
- A copy of the report London Cost of Living: Fair Housing, is available here.
- The Mayor’s revised house building targets are included in the Further Alterations to the London Plan, which is the spatial planning strategy for London. The Further Alterations to the London Plan released today can be found here.