During last week’s Mayor’s Question Time (14 September) Boris Johnson double counted thousands of homes that will be delivered between 2008 and 2015.
“We are not only on course to achieve 50,000 new affordable homes during this mayoralty, which is a record, but we’re also setting ourselves a target of 54,000 in the four year period 2011 to 2015.”
This repeats claims made by his Housing Adviser a fortnight earlier (1 September).
But the Mayor is actually counting around 16,000 affordable homes towards both his 50,000 by April 2012 target and the 54,000 he claims for the next four years.
He has double counted.
Despite the record £5bn budget the last Government gave Boris for housing, he decided early on to delay achieving his manifesto (pdf) target to build 50,000 new affordable homes within the 2008/11 investment round by a year to 2012.
He then revised the 2008/11 investment target down to nearly 41,000 in his 2010 Housing Strategy. He failed to meet that target, falling short by over 2,000 affordable homes.
Now he is taking a significant chunk of the new 2011/15 investment round to reach his target a year late.
He and his officers have been extremely disingenuous in their handling of statistics since his election, using sleight of hand tactics to claim credit where it is not due and to confuse clarity over of housing delivery.
The Mayor’s loose attitude to statistics raises serious issues about how City Hall uses facts and figures – in this instance to cheat targets rather than to beat them.
This is not the first time the mayor has been caught out. Earlier this year the national statistics watchdog was pushed into taking the unusual step of publicly rebuked him for his misuse of crime statistics.
Nicky Gavron is a member of the London Assembly and Labour Group spokesperson for housing and planning
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