January 2019 report to Londoners

January 18th, 2019

Shelter report makes strong case for historic renewal of social housing in capital

January 8th, 2019

New Battersea report makes strong case for pet-friendly properties

November 27th, 2018

More must be done to cut winter deaths in London’s private rented homes

November 23rd, 2018

Tom Copley AM: government should have lifted borrowing cap sooner to tackle housing crisis

October 3rd, 2018

Land value capture “could trigger a monumental shift in how we incentivise house building in this country” – Tom Copley AM

September 13th, 2018

January 2019 report to Londoners

Friday, January 18th, 2019

Here is my latest report back about my work at City Hall and around London. If you’d like me to speak at a local Labour Party meeting, or if you’d like a tour of City Hall, please email me.

New London Assembly Working Group to continue investigating Boris Johnson’s failed Garden Bridge project

I’ve been appointed to chair a new London Assembly working group which will continue our investigation into Boris Johnson’s failed Garden Bridge project, which has cost the taxpayer up to £46 million. In early 2018 I secured the release of the Garden Bridge Trust’s (GBT) board minutes, which have shed crucial light on how the trustees pushed forward the project in the face of escalating risks. We will now be investigating the role of the Charity Commission as regulator, as well as the TfL officers who attended GBT board meetings.

The GBT recently demanded an additional £5 million to pay for winding up costs. I have written to Transport Commissioner Mike Brown asking him to explore every legal avenue to withhold this payment. If you agree that no more public money should be spent on this vanity project then please sign the petition here.

 

Tell the government to reverse their cuts to sexual health services in London

Cuts to sexual health budgets are hitting clinics just as demand for testing is rising. In December the London Assembly unanimously called on the Mayor of London to work with boroughs to support sexual health services in London. But we need the government to reverse their damaging £600 million cuts to public health budgets, with another £85 million cuts planned. Please show how your support for reversing these cuts by signing my petition.

 

Do you know your rights as a renter?

Last year the government consulted on longer tenancies for private tenants. In my response I called for open-ended tenancies, an end to no fault eviction and caps on rent rises. You can read my response here.

More than a quarter of Londoners now rent from private landlords, but do you know what your rights as a tenant are? Take the quiz to find out.

 

We need to tax land

It was a pleasure to talk to Tom Burgess for the Real Agenda podcast about one of my favourite subjects: Land Value Tax (LVT). LVT is the fairest and most efficient way of raising tax, and at the same time discourages developers from land banking or keeping homes empty. We talk a lot about rates of income tax in the Labour Party, but if we really want to redistribute wealth we need to tax land. Land values in the UK have risen by 544% since 1995. We should be capturing some of that rise to fund infrastructure and housing. In 2016 I led an investigation for the London Assembly looking at LVT. My report recommended that the Mayor should be given the power to trial it in London.

You can listen to my conversation with Tom here.

 

Short-term lets: an international approach

Concern about the abuse of short-term lettings platforms such as Airbnb by people turning homes into hotels by the back door has been growing internationally. Last year I published a report “Morebnb: short-term lets in London’s housing crisis” which examined the issue in London and made a number of recommendations, including data sharing between short-term lettings platforms and local authorities. In November I spoke about the impact of short-term lettings platforms on London at an international conference in New York which is looking at ways to better regulate the sector (though via Skype, not in person, sadly!)

 

Shelter report makes strong case for historic renewal of social housing in capital

Tuesday, January 8th, 2019

In response to today’s publication of Shelter’s report, ‘A Vision for Social Housing’, Labour’s London Assembly Housing Spokesperson, Tom Copley AM, said:

“For this Government, social housing has sadly been an afterthought. In London, we’ve seen the impact of this with fewer than 8,000 social homes having been built over the last five years in total.

“With more and more people being forced into the all too often precarious conditions of the private rented sector, it is clear that we need to see a historic renewal in social housing to provide safe, secure and affordable homes to Londoners.

“In our capital, we are witnessing the burning injustice of thousands sleeping rough on the streets and trapped in temporary accommodation, alongside a rise in the hidden homeless population.

“Shelter’s plan for social housing sets a benchmark for the level of ambition that we need to turn this dire situation around. The Government must now pull its weight, and work with the Mayor by putting the funding in place to secure the 30,000 new social homes that London needs each year.

“But it’s no good building new social housing only to lose precious existing council homes to Right to Buy. The Government must end this policy, which has resulted in the loss of 287,303 social rented homes in London in the past 40 years.”

Ends 

Notes

  • The 2017 London Strategic Housing Market Assessment, carried out by the Greater London Authority, identifies the need for 30,972 social rented homes to be built each year in London;
  • Data from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government shows that between 2013/14 and 2017/18, 7,905 new homes for social rent were built in London;
  • Data from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government reveals that the Right to Buy policy has resulted in the loss of 287,303 social rented homes in London in the past 40 years;
  • Tom Copley AM is a Londonwide Assembly Member

New Battersea report makes strong case for pet-friendly properties

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018

Last night it was a pleasure to speak at the launch of Battersea’s new report into pet friendly properties at City Hall. A short summary of my speech is below:

I really welcome Battersea’s new report on pet friendly properties. This is an issue that I feel personally very strongly about: I’m a private tenant and I’m not allowed pets.

10% of people giving up their dogs do so because landlords don’t allow pets. I grew up with cats. They’re always part of the family. I can’t imagine how distressing an heartbreaking it must be to have to give up your pets because you move home and your new landlord won’t allow you to keep them.

This is a particular issue for London. Half of Londoners rent either from the council, housing association or private landlord. This is forecast to rise to 60% by 2025.

Pets bring great joy and have an extremely positive effect on mental health. One of the most striking statistics in this report is that pet ownership saves the NHS £2.5bn a year.

At a time when NHS budgets, particularly funding for mental health, is very tight, there is clearly a financial case to ensure people who wish to own a pet can do so. Though this is no substitute for properly funding our NHS.

I think the emphasis on responsible pet ownership in the report is welcome, and should reassure landlords. I’m pleased that Battersea is offering its services via the Pet Ready Training Programme.

As a Lewisham councillor I’m delighted that our local community housing association, Phoenix, is held up in the report as an example of good practice, allowing their residents to keep a dog or cat so long as they do not cause a nuisance. They’ve also partnered with Battersea to offer free microchipping and advice on responsible pet ownership. This is a common-sense approach which I hope other landlords will emulate.

I’m also really pleased that the Labour party nationally has a policy of giving tenants a default right to pets. This would bring the UK into line with countries like Belgium and Italy, which allow tenants the right to keep small pets.

More must be done to cut winter deaths in London’s private rented homes

Friday, November 23rd, 2018

Cold homes are estimated to have been a contributory factor in 3,400 excess winter deaths in London in 2016/17. I’ve written for On London about why the government’s minimum energy efficiency standards for private rented homes don’t go far enough.

Click here to read the article.

Tom Copley AM: government should have lifted borrowing cap sooner to tackle housing crisis

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018

Responding to the Prime Minister’s announcement that the Government will remove the cap on council borrowing to build, Labour’s London Assembly Housing Spokesperson, Tom Copley AM, said:

“Over the last few years councils across London have been building high quality new council homes for social rent for the first time in a generation. Yet their capacity to deliver could not match their ambitions because of central government borrowing restrictions.

“We have long called on the Government to lift the cap on council borrowing to build new homes as part of a series of measures to trigger the return of mass council housing building. At long last they are beginning to listen. If only the Government had acted sooner, we could have made even more progress in tackling London’s housing crisis.

“In London, under Sadiq Khan, we’ve made significant progress with the Mayor announcing earlier this year plans to support councils in delivering 10,000 new council homes.

“However, it is also imperative that the Government puts a swift end to their disastrous Right to Buy policy, which has seen the mass sell-off of council homes at a discount across the capital and been one of the key drivers of the housing crisis.”

Ends

Land value capture “could trigger a monumental shift in how we incentivise house building in this country” – Tom Copley AM

Thursday, September 13th, 2018

Responding to calls from the Housing, Communities, and Local Government Committee for the Government to allow authorities to pilot land value capture, Labour’s London Assembly Housing Spokesperson, Tom Copley AM, said:

“If the Government is receptive to allowing local authorities to trial new ways of capturing land value, this could trigger a monumental shift in how we incentivise house building in this country.

“The price of land is the biggest part of the cost of building a house. By reforming outdated compulsory purchase laws to give local authorities the ability to buy up land cheaply at close to its current value we can deliver many more genuinely affordable homes, especially those at social rent levels.

“By introducing some form of land value capture, such as a Land Value Tax, we could help to fund vital infrastructure projects like Crossrail 2.

“This could also see land brought forward for development at a much quicker pace, by discouraging land banking.

“This isn’t a push for additional taxation, but to replace existing property taxes like council tax, business rates and stamp duty with a fairer system that captures unearned wealth.

“Through my campaign for a trial of Land Value Tax in London, I have seen that there is support from across the political spectrum, including the Mayor of London, for something of this kind. The Government must now show willing to get on board, and at the very least I’d like them to hand City Hall the powers to trial a Land Value Tax here in London.”

Ends

Notes

  • Tom Copley’s report, ‘Tax Trial – A Land Value Tax for London’, which was published on behalf of the London Assembly Planning Committee, can be found here;
  • Tom Copley AM is a Londonwide Assembly Member

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