Statement on the Housing White Paper

February 7th, 2017

Garden Bridge Trust accounts “incredibly concerning”

January 11th, 2017

Mayor’s boiler scheme welcomed as fuel poverty rises in Redbridge

January 4th, 2017

Anger over blocked rail devolution plans

December 9th, 2016

Lettings agency fee ban must be loophole-free

December 7th, 2016

Assembly calls for mandatory electrical safety checks for London’s private rented sector

December 7th, 2016

Statement on the Housing White Paper

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

Responding to the publication of the Government’s Housing White Paper, Tom Copley AM said:

“What we have here is evidence the government hasn’t got to grips with the realities of the housing crisis. More than anything we need an upsurge in truly affordable housing, but unless government is willing to lift the cap on council’s borrowing this will difficult to achieve. While a first glance suggests this White Paper will probably have limited impact on London, the spectre of the forced sale of council homes in the capital to pay for Right to Buy discounts still hangs over us.

“The government have indicated that they have finally woken up to the need to look beyond home ownership, with the shift in focus onto Build to Rent. But this is to attract institutional investors – and whilst the promise of longer tenancies is welcome, its bearing will be miniscule unless it is extended to existing rental properties, where the vast majority of renters actually live.

“With the government insisting on clinging steadfastly to its definition of affordable rent as 80% of market prices, any positive step it takes towards making life better for renters will be undermined. The government should instead follow Sadiq Khan’s lead by tying ‘intermediate rent’ to income, as the Mayor has done through his new London Living Rent.

“The ban on letting agents fees could significantly benefit renters, but it must be a blanket ban with no loopholes that greedy agents can exploit.”

Ends

Garden Bridge Trust accounts “incredibly concerning”

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

Responding to the publication of the Garden Bridge Trust’s accounts, which show that the total cost of the Garden Bridge could exceed the estimated £185m, Labour London Assembly Member Tom Copley AM, said:

“This report makes for incredibly concerning reading. We already knew this venture was strapped for cash but now Londoners will rightly worry that there’ll be an attempt to draw on more public funds.

“With the Garden Bridge Trust desperately trying to persuade donors to part with their cash before construction has even begun, and serious risks to its status as a going concern, it looks like a development on the verge of collapse.

“If we’re to stop more public cash being frittered away on this floundering project then we need the Mayor to refuse to sign the maintenance guarantee. We need him to give that reassurance.”

Ends

Notes

  • Concerns that the cost of the Bridge could exceed £185m are found on page 8 of the report;
  • Information regarding the Trust calling for donations to be made available ahead of construction are found on page 10;
  • Uncertainties about the Trust’s status as a going concern can be found on page 13.

Mayor’s boiler scheme welcomed as fuel poverty rises in Redbridge

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

Over 10,500 households in Redbridge are living in fuel poverty, new analysis has revealed.  Nearly 10% of Londoners – almost 350,000 households – are finding it difficult to afford to heat their homes. In response, Mayor Khan launched a £1 million Better Boilers scheme which could cut bills by £150. Londonwide Assembly Member, Tom Copley AM, also urged people to make sure they were on the best deal.

348,216 households across the capital are in fuel poverty according to the latest figures available – an increase of over 22,000 since the previous year. In Redbridge, 10,599 are affected, this means 10.6% of households are in fuel poverty. The main reasons are poorly insulated buildings, high energy costs, and low pay.

Mayor Khan’s pilot scheme will help up to 500 households in London to keep warm this winter by replacing or repairing inefficient or broken boilers with A-rated ultra-low emission appliances. This is expected to reduce annual energy bills by an average of around £150 per household. The new boilers will also reduce carbon emissions and reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Ofgem, the energy market regulator, recently published new data comparing how much customers on standard variable tariffs with each supplier could save by switching to a cheaper deal. Around 66 per cent of all households in the UK are on standard variable tariffs, which Ofgem say are typically more expensive than fixed deals.

Londonwide Labour Assembly Member Tom Copley AM said:

“It’s terrible that so many people in Redbridge are struggling with their energy bills, and in many cases are having to choose whether to heat or eat.

“I welcome the Mayor’s announcement to take action. This scheme will help many Londoners living in cold homes – I look forward to seeing the results of the pilot and hope the scheme can be expanded, to help thousands more struggling with their bills in Redbridge.

“I would also urge people to make sure they are on the best energy deal – over two thirds of households in Britain are on variable tariffs which are usually more expensive than fixed deals.”

Ends

Notes

  • Fuel poverty statistics from 2014 – the most recent figures available – can be found here;
  • Mayor Khan announced the £1m Better Boiler Pilot Scheme at Mayor’s Question Time. A webcast can be found here and more information can be found here;
  • Information about Ofgem’s new table can be found here;
  • The term fuel poverty is applied to households with higher than average fuel costs, which pushes people below the poverty line if they pay their high bills. More information on the definition of fuel poverty can be found here;
  • Tom Copley is a Londonwide Labour Assembly Member

Anger over blocked rail devolution plans

Friday, December 9th, 2016

Londonwide Assembly Member Tom Copley AM has joined calls for the Government to reconsider handing over the reins for rail services on suburban routes to the Mayor of London. Tom Copley also expressed outrage at a leaked letter, in which Chris Grayling MP told former Mayor, Boris Johnson, that he wanted to keep rail services “out of the clutches” of a Labour Mayor. Tom Copley said the Minister’s “political point scoring” had side-lined the needs of passengers.

Earlier this month – the now Transport Secretary – Chris Grayling rejected Sadiq Khan’s proposals for Transport for London to take control of suburban rail services in London and the South East.

The Secretary of State’s decision comes despite his predecessor, Patrick McLoughlin, proposing in January that TfL could take control of suburban rail franchises, describing it as a move that would put passengers “at the heart of the rail network”.

Anger was raised further when a leaked letter sent from Chris Grayling to the then London Mayor Boris Johnson in 2013, suggested the Transport Secretary’s decision may have been politically motivated. In his letter, Chris Grayling wrote “I would like to keep suburban rail services out of the clutches of any future Labour mayor”.

Suburban rail devolution in London has cross party support in Parliament, across London councils, and on the London Assembly. It has happened in some areas already. The North London Line was taken under TfL’s control in 2007 and rebranded as London Overground. Last year, TfL rail replaced some West Anglia services running to and from the capital. The most recent public performance measurements from Network Rail show TfL Rail in 1st place and London Overground in 2nd.

Labour Londonwide Assembly Member Tom Copley AM said:

“Rail franchises must work for passengers, not just train operators.

“It’s the greatest shame for passengers that the Minister’s political point scoring has side-lined the needs of passengers.

“The fact remains that where TfL have managed services, we’ve seen some of the best performances. If allowing TfL to manage suburban rail franchises will mean paying passengers get better, more reliable services, then we need to move past this pettiness and make it happen.”

Ends

Notes

  • Details of the government’s announcement on rail devolution made in January can be found here.
  • A picture of Chris Grayling’s leaked letter can be found here.
  • National Rail’s Public Performance Measurements can be found here; see second column
  • Tom Copley AM is a Londonwide Assembly Member

Lettings agency fee ban must be loophole-free

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

Private tenants pay an average of £337 in lettings agency fees.

The London Assembly today welcomed the announcement of a lettings agency fee ban.

It also agreed a unanimous motion calling on the Mayor to make the strongest representations to the Government that the ban must be comprehensive and not contain any loopholes.

Tom Copley AM, who proposed the motion said:

“By 2020, a third of Londoners will rent from a private landlord. Private renting in London is expensive enough without being hit by fees averaging £337. Letting agents provide a service to landlords, not tenants. Landlords can shop around for a better deal, tenants can’t. A ban on fees for tenants is well overdue.

Despite scaremongering by lettings agencies, research by Shelter has shown there has been no increase in rents following the ban on letting agents’ fees in Scotland in 2012.

Having made this important pledge to tenants, the government must now deliver on it. We call on the Mayor to make representations to government to ensure this most welcome change contains no loopholes.”

The full text of the Motion is:

“This Assembly notes that London has the largest share of private tenants anywhere in the country. Further notes that Citizen’s Advice Bureau research has found that private tenants pay an average of £337 in lettings agency fees.

This Assembly also notes that a ban on lettings agency fees for tenants has been in place in Scotland since 2012 and that research by Shelter found that there had been no increase in rents for tenants as a result.

This Assembly therefore welcomes the Government’s announcement that lettings agency fees for tenants in England will be banned. We call on the Mayor to make the strongest representations to the Government that this ban must be comprehensive and not contain any loopholes.”

Assembly calls for mandatory electrical safety checks for London’s private rented sector

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

There has been a downward trend in the numbers of fires in London, however the proportion with an electrical source of ignition has been slowly increasing.

Mandatory electrical safety checks are conducted every five years in Scotland and are due to be brought in in Wales.

As London has the largest private rented sector in the UK, the London Assembly today agreed a unanimous motion for the Government to introduce mandatory electrical safety checks to be conducted every five years. 

Tom Copley AM, who seconded the motion said:

“It’s completely senseless that we’re seeing damage to people’s lives and properties as a result of these avoidable fires.

We have a massive private rented sector in London and it’s worrying that we don’t already have mandatory electrical tests in place to protect the many, many Londoners who rent.

Anything the Mayor can do to lean on the government to introduce mandatory electrical testing would be hugely welcome.”

The full text of the Motion is:

“The Assembly notes the work of Electrical Safety First and supports the Government in their introduction of electrical safety checks to the private rented sector.

London Fire Brigade figures show that although there has been a downward trend in the numbers of fires in London, the proportion with an electrical source of ignition has been slowly increasing.

Furthermore, the Assembly acknowledges that the provisions in the Housing and Planning Act to introduce electrical safety checks would align electricity with gas safety in the PRS and that mandatory electrical safety checks are conducted every five years in Scotland and are due to be brought in in Wales.

As London has the largest private rented sector in the UK, the Assembly believes it is right for the Government to introduce mandatory electrical safety checks to be conducted every five years.

The Assembly therefore calls on the Mayor to make representations regarding the introduction of electrical safety checks to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, highlighting the important contribution they would make to improving housing standards in London’s PRS and for these checks to be both mandatory and conducted every five years in line with the rest of the Great Britain.”

Vast swathes of London are becoming unaffordable even to those on “good” incomes

April 2nd, 2014

We need to turn the landlord’s house into the tenant’s home

March 19th, 2014

We need Homes for London

February 3rd, 2014