I challenged Boris Johnson about the damaging impact extending Right to Buy to housing association tenants will have on London’s mixed communities at last week’s Mayors Question Time.
The Government’s proposed extension of Right to Buy discounts to tenants in properties owned by housing associations will see a further haemorrhaging of social housing, putting the promise of a secure place to raise their families even further out of the reach of low income workers. When the policy was first announced, I warned that London would be hit hardest, considering that one third of all right-to-buy sales are already in the capital.
The policy won’t just leave us with fewer social homes – it will strike a blow to London’s mixed and balanced communities. The Government proposes to fund the programme by forcing councils to sell its most expensive housing when it falls vacant. This will segregate London further as the remaining council housing will be in polarised communities where the values are not so high. We will see high-income neighbourhoods where average Londoners could never dream of living and low-income neighbourhoods where better-off Londoners will never step foot.
This is a plan which will undermine the Mayor’s own London Plan policy on mixed and balanced communities, yet he expressed absolutely no concern when I challenged him about it at Mayors Question Time last week. He said London is already becoming more uniform across London, but I responded that inner and central London are only mixed because of the high level of social housing – and this is going to be eroded under the new policy.
The Mayor has often said he’s relaxed about providing less affordable housing in central London because a third of the stock there is social housing. But this is where those high-value properties are that the Government is going to force local authorities to sell off to pay for their scheme. That means less housing in inner London that is affordable to anyone but the rich and uber-rich.