Response from Richard Blakeway

Date: 7 September

Dear Nicky

Thank you for your letter.

54,000 completions refers to the four-year investment round, 2011/15. The GLA has been clear we are referring to this investment round, and this includes existing commitments as well. You will find a detailed breakdown in the revised version of the mayor’s housing strategy, and the statement outlining the new programme.

Richard Blakeway
Mayoral Advisor on Housing

Time for the Mayor to come clean on housing figures

In his response to my article last week (31 August), Richard Blakeway, the Mayor’s housing adviser, not only failed to address the points I made on the negative impact of the London Plan for communities and social housing but he also raised a whole set of new issues.

Firstly, his fast and loose attitude to statistics raises serious issues about how City Hall uses facts and figures to suit their argument.

This is not the first time the mayor has been caught out. Earlier this year the national statistics watchdog publicly rebuked him for his misuse of crime statistics. It seems housing is no different.

The mayor’s office has double counted thousands of homes due for completion in 2011/12.

In his article, Mr Blakeway said, “The mayor is on course to deliver 50,000 affordable homes by April 2012″ and that “around 54,000 completions” are expected over the “next four years” (between April 2011 and March 2015). But if the reader looks carefully they can see that 2011/12 features in both sets of targets. The mayor is actually counting around 16,000 affordable homes towards both his 50,000 by April 2012 target and the 54,000 over the next four years. He has double counted.

This double counting is at best a lazy error and at worst blatantly misleading.

Secondly, his claim about the number of housing starts under Boris Johnson is wrong.

Mr Blakeway said there has been “a substantial increase in new homes being started, up by almost 50% last year”.

But government statistics (xls) show not only is this wrong and very wide of the mark (they’re actually only up 35%), he ignores the fact that this increase came after the worst year for housing starts since 1995. A 35% increase from such a low base suddenly doesn’t sound so impressive.

About nickygavron

Former Deputy Mayor for London, London Assembly Member, Chair of Planning Committee, and Labour Spokesperson for Planning
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