The size of the London Assembly constituencies means that it is rare to find issues that resonate everywhere – but there are some. Fares, police, and housing come right at the top of that list. From the riverside tower blocks of Battersea and Putney, to the cottage estates of Morden, the lack of affordable housing is right at the top of the agenda for many people.
In his eight years as Mayor, Ken took a lead on housing, being as proactive as he could, trying to move the London Boroughs forward within an overall plan that aimed to meet the needs of Londoners. The current Mayor could not have taken a more different approach – housing starts have plummeted to a disgraceful level in London, and the latest newspeak on ‘affordable’ rents is really quite shocking – 80% of private market rents will not be affordable for many people – people who do absolutely vital jobs that keep our great city functioning.
It’s hard to see where current policies are taking us – reducing benefits in London mean that many families will simply be forced to move. Ken’s idea of a Lettings Agency might help with sorting out the private sector, but he is also keen to see council and housing associations building again across London – and using the new Mayoral powers to make this happen.
The campaign to see a body set up to oversee Housing for London, similar to Transport for London, seems sensible to me – apart from politicians who know ward and borough boundaries, most people want to live in an area they like, and don’t care if the part of Tooting or Streatham they live in is in Merton, Wandsworth or Lambeth.
We need more housing that people can truly afford, of all types and styles, in all parts of London. Controlling rents in the private sector, and improving the quality of properties rented out, is as essential as councils and housing associations building new properties. It’s a huge challenge, but one London can rise to, with Ken back as Mayor, taking a firm lead.
This post was originally published at the Homes for London blog