Boris Johnson’s record of housing failure continues

June 23, 2013 8:56 am

It could only have passed by the wealthiest of Londoner, but London is in the grip of a housing crisis – what the Mayor, Boris Johnson, rightly describes in his ‘2020 Vision’ as the “gravest crisis the city faces”.

One of the most abhorrent elements of this housing crisis is that at a time when families on low and middle-incomes are genuinely struggling to put a roof over their heads, over 72,000 homes are lying empty in London; 24,000 of which are long-term empty.

Yet, given the strength of Boris’s rhetoric, it is astounding that the Mayor recorded a 99% underspend on his empty homes programme during the last financial year.

The government handed the Mayor £15.7 million to spend on bringing empty homes back into use between 2012 and 2015, £3.6 million of which Boris allocated for spending in 2012/13.

In the end, Boris has spent only £39,000 – a little over a quarter of his own mayoral salary – on bringing a paltry eight homes back into use. This at a time when over 360,000 households are on London’s housing waiting lists.

Londoners will no doubt think something is going badly wrong and rightly recognise that on this issue the buck stops with the Mayor. It’s his responsibility and he needs to get a grip on this.

The Mayor’s Housing Adviser, Richard Blakeway, sounded less than confident when interviewed by BBC London, claiming simply that “my officers have told me that they will deliver this programme”.

Rhetoric is one thing, but the Mayor needs to start acting like we are in a housing crisis. Instead, what we have seen is an increasing pattern of failure.

In 2008 he pledged to end rough sleeping by 2012. Instead, the number of people sleeping rough in London has increased every single year and figures published this week showed that the number has doubled since he became Mayor.

On affordable housing, the number of homes being delivered has also dropped dramatically since Boris assumed responsibility, while he has also enthusiastically insists on pushing through the government’s Orwellian ‘Affordable Rent’ programme (affordable housing charged at up to 80% of market rent), which in parts of London such as Camden could result in ‘affordable’ – family-sized – homes that require a household income of £100,000. It’s as if the Mayor takes the view that all housing is affordable to someone!

The Mayor needs to get a grip on London’s housing crisis. If he genuinely believes it is the ‘gravest crisis the city faces’ then its time his actions began to reflect the rhetoric.

Tom Copley AM is a Londonwide member of the London Assembly and City Hall Labour’s Housing Spokesperson.

Latest

  • Featured Beware the New, Techno-Nationalist Right

    Beware the New, Techno-Nationalist Right

    Since being elected Prime Minister of India in May, Narendra Modi’s big idea has been to link every river in India into a massive system of irrigation channels and dams. It’s a deluded project of statist hubris, first dreamt up in the days of the British empire by a government desperate to look like it was doing something to develop India. It won’t make India any richer. India needs to learn to live with less water, not shove the limited […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Israel has fallen into a Hamas trap

    Israel has fallen into a Hamas trap

    Only 15% of Britons think Israeli air-strikes on Gaza are justified, according to polling by YouGov yesterday. In one sense this is surprising given that most of the British press has traditionally been stridently pro-Israeli. But it also says something about shifting attitudes towards Israel as pictures of dead Palestinian children start to dominate the news. Internationally, Israel is becoming a pariah state, backed stridently only by the United States. Two years ago, a global survey by the BBC found […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Building safer and more resilient communities

    Building safer and more resilient communities

    Despite the lowest crime for decades, many perceive that crime remains too high. Despite many child safety improvements, parents remain worried.Overall alcohol consumption is down, but many feel that drinking is out of control, particularly in city centres. Traditional drug use is lower, but ‘legal highs’ provide a new challenge. In a free and open society, the state cannot protect individuals from every conceivable danger at all times, or from the consequences of unwise choices.We can, however, help people make wiser decisions. How […]

    Read more →
  • News Seats and Selections Frank Dobson confirms he’s retiring as an MP

    Frank Dobson confirms he’s retiring as an MP

    As we reported last week, Frank Dobson is stepping down as MP for Holborn and St Pancras – and he’s officially announcing his decision this evening at a meeting of local party members. Dobson, who is retiring at the age of 74  began his career in politics at Camden London Borough Council, where he was elected as a councillor in 1971 before becoming leader of the council for two years later in 1973. Six years later he entered into the […]

    Read more →
  • News Shadow Home Office Minister steps down

    Shadow Home Office Minister steps down

    Shadow Home Office Minister Helen Jones is stepping down from the front bench. The Warrington North MP “wanted to spend more time in her constituency” Labour sources said – although her letter to Miliband announcing her decision appears to lack a clear explanation (it’s only 46 words long). Jones had been in the role since October last year (since the last reshuffle) and served as “Vice-Chamberlain of the Household” under Gordon Brown. A replacement for Jones will be announced “in […]

    Read more →