The latest figures for London show that only 425 new affordable homes were started, and only 117 at ‘social rent’ levels in the last six months (April-Sept 2012). In the same period the number of total affordable homes that were completed collapsed by 42%, with the number of social-rented homes falling by 58%.
Between April and September 2012 only 1,558 affordable homes were finished, compared to 2,691 in same period last year. For social-rented homes in the same periods the fall was from 1,939 to 815. There are currently over 360,000 households on waiting lists for social housing in London.
The figures were quietly released by the Mayor of London on City Hall’s website, and have been reported by the Financial Times. The figures show that in London between April and September this year only 117 Social Rent properties were started, with 171 “affordable” units – which can be charged at up to 80% of market rents. At a time when rents in the private sector have risen by 30% in the past three years and many households are struggling with rising costs and stagnant wages it is even more important to provide truly affordable housing for Londoners of all incomes.
London Assembly Labour group spokesperson for Housing Nicky Gavron AM said:
“These figures confirm that we are witnessing the death of truly affordable housing in London. With over 360,000 households on council waiting lists, huge overcrowding problems and a cost of living crisis hitting families and the vulnerable, the Mayor’s record is a complete disgrace.”
“These figures show the impact of the government’s 70% cut to London’s affordable housing budget and the Mayor’s inability to get the new, much more limited, affordable housing programme up and running. It is staggering that the number of social and affordable housing starts has collapsed to this extent, at a time when Londoners on modest incomes are really struggling.
“The situation is getting worse, this week the Mayor’s housing policies were examined in public by a Planning Inspector. What became clear is that whatever number of ‘affordable’ homes the Mayor delivers, they will be too expensive for those who need them most.
“Boris says he will give no money to build new social rented housing. He is also trying to use the planning system to block London’s 32 borough councils from finding ways of delivering new social-rented housing themselves. This is a direct assault on local democracy. Instead, he is forcing rents of up to 80% of the local market rate on new so-called “affordable” housing, which in many parts of London is beyond the means of those who need the homes.”
Nicky Gavron is a Labour London Assembly Member and is the London Assembly Labour Group’s Housing spokesperson.
The statistics for April-September 2012 can be found here: http://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/GLA-Housing-Statistics-Starts-and-Completions-2009-12_0.pdf
The statistics for April-September 2011 can be found here: http://www.homesandcommunities.co.uk/sites/default/files/aboutus/official_statistics_nov_2011-tables.xls
Social-housing waiting list statistics can be found here: http://england.shelter.org.uk/professional_resources/housing_databank/results?area_selection=H&data_selection=A6&selected_min=1997&selected_max=2012
This week the Mayor’s London Plan was scrutinised in public by a Planning Inspector. Nicky Gavron gave evidence and challenged the Mayor’s plans on the following areas:
The Mayor using these minor alterations to end social rented housing in London.
Whatever is wrong with the NPPF, it does give the Mayor the discretion to meet London’s overwhelming need for social rented housing.
The NPPF requires the Mayor’s housing policies to be based on evidence of need and to reflect local circumstances. This would indicate an overwhelming case for social rented housing.
Instead, the Mayor is seeking to prevent boroughs from delivering social rented housing and forcing them to deliver the Affordable Rent, which is often twice as expensive as social rented housing and unaffordable to most social tenants.