At this week’s plenary meeting of the London Assembly I was very pleased when my fellow AMs voted through my motion to call on the Government to provide the powers and funds to meet the need for new social housing in London, and for the Mayor to reflect this in his London Plan.
The GLA’s most recent strategic housing market assessment worked out that we need nearly 16,000 new social rented homes each year in London – however the government has committed no further funds.
The motion (and my speech in support) also criticised the Government’s Starter Homes initiative – which would soak up subsidies for private homes that would be affordable once but back on the open market after five years – as a waste of money that will increase house prices in the end, and a policy that London should not have to comply with, especially as rural areas have won an exemption already.
Millions of Londoners are struggling to pay their rent, but with Starter Homes the Government is only helping a few lucky people buy a very expensive home. We need them to look seriously at the huge need for low rent housing in London and give us the powers and funds to provide our own social housing for people on lower incomes.
A focus on still-expensive home ownership instead of real affordable homes to rent is a dinosaur policy, a relic from the days of Thatcher. During the election campaign people in London made it clear they aspire most of all to a secure home to live in. Social housing has been proven to provide that, and to be a better investment for public funds.
Watch here my closing speech responding to Conservative members defending Starter Homes. I also stress that neglected communities who voted to leave the EU need politicians to be tackling housing not propping up house prices to even higher levels.
The full text of the Motion was:
This Assembly notes that the GLA’s most recent strategic housing market assessment identified a need for 15,722 social rented homes to be built each year in London, one third of the total number of homes to be built.
This Assembly notes that the autumn 2015 Spending Review provided no further funds for social rented homes, and that the Housing and Planning Act 2016 introduced duties for local planning authorities to promote, and grant permission, for Starter Homes, which will come at the expense of social rented homes.
This Assembly therefore calls on the Government to provide sufficient funds in future spending reviews to meet the need for new social housing in London, and calls on the Mayor to bring forward a housing budget and a revised London Plan and Housing Strategy that will continue to provide more social housing.