On Friday, I joined my colleagues from the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green Groups on the London Assembly in agreeing to alter the Mayor of London’s draft 2013-14 budget. The alteration, known formally as a ‘Technical Amendment’, forces the Mayor to review his budget. This is the first time for a decade this power has been used.
The amendment and proposals focus on protecting frontline services, easing the cost of living crisis and helping young Londoners into work. It was approved at a full Assembly meeting last Friday.
Earlier in the session, the Assembly considered a fully costed budget amendment proposed by Labour. That proposal included a range of important measures on housing. Londoners are really suffering. People can’t find homes, and rents are soaring.
A few days before we debated the budget, Boris seemed to acknowledge the housing crisis in a well-publicised speech to the Chartered Institute of Housing. But all his ideas fall flat. He says he wants to government to give him surplus land – but in fact he’s not even using to the full potential the masses of public land he already has! He says that rent should reflect income levels – but he has absolutely no way of making that happen. Most hypocrtical of all, Boris says he wants to give the boroughs more freedom to build – but in fact he’s using the planning system to block boroughs from building the affordable housing they want to build!
Labour’s alternative budget takes real and concrete steps to solve the housing crisis.
Our budget amendment calls on the Mayor to investigate a range of options to deliver this public land for housing. We’d create a Greater London Authority ‘Know Your Rights’ website for tenants to arm people with the information they need to deal with landlords. We would commission a study to look at a London Living Rent, which would bring rent increases under control. Finally, we would launch a pilot social London Lettings Agency, because removing rip-off lettings agencies from the equation would mean lower rent for tenants and lower costs for landlords by getting rid of extortionate fees.
We’d do all this – all Boris is doing is building fewer houses and ensuring that rents become more and more unaffordable.
You can read more about Labour’s amendment to the draft 2013-14 budget for London, including the summary and full text, on the GLA Labour website: http://cityhalllabour.org/there-is-an-alternative/