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

  • Comment Why 90 is a National Disgrace

    Why 90 is a National Disgrace

    Wednesday was World Suicide Prevention Day. It came in the same week as the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman released a report detailing a 64% rise, from 55 to 90 people, in the number of self-inflicted deaths in prison in the last year. It came on the same day that the inquest into the death of 21 year old Steven Davison found ‘serious failings’ on behalf of HMP YOI Glen Parva. Steven hanged himself having been deemed ‘low risk’, despite having […]

    Read more →
  • News Scotland “Better change, faster change, safer change is our offer for Scotland” – Brown, Miliband and Lamont speak in Glasgow tonight

    “Better change, faster change, safer change is our offer for Scotland” – Brown, Miliband and Lamont speak in Glasgow tonight

    With less than a week to go until the referendum, Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband and Johann Lamont will give speeches tonight in Glasgow, each laying out the case for why they think people in Scotland should vote to remain part of the Union. Brown will argue that in light of the devolution timetable he laid out earlier in the week, Labour are proposing “better change, faster change and safer change than that sought by the nationalists.” He will explain that while […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Whatever the result in Scotland, devolution must remain on the agenda

    Whatever the result in Scotland, devolution must remain on the agenda

    As we enter the final week of the Scottish Referendum campaign, when it seems everyone both sides of the border has fully woken up to the momentous decision facing people in Scotland on the 18th September, the Decentralisation Decade report from IPPR North is timely to say the least. The question for next Thursday is will the Scots choose to end the 300 year union? Whether the answer is yes or no (and I hope it’s a no), further devolution […]

    Read more →
  • News “The ultimate act of political courage” – Miliband reacts to death of Ian Paisley

    “The ultimate act of political courage” – Miliband reacts to death of Ian Paisley

    Ed Miliband has reacted to the death of Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) politician Ian Paisley by saluting his “political courage and reconciliation” for his role in the Northern Ireland peace process. Miliband said: “Dr Paisley was a towering figure in Northern Ireland politics for decades. His decision to take the DUP into a power-sharing partnership with Sinn Fein was the ultimate act of political courage and reconciliation. His willingness to work positively with Martin McGuinness was a key element in ensuring […]

    Read more →
  • News Scotland Salmond ‘disingenuous’ about NHS Scotland privatisation claims

    Salmond ‘disingenuous’ about NHS Scotland privatisation claims

    Shadow Health minister Debbie Abrahams has slammed Alex Salmond for being “disingenuous” in his claims about the privatisation about the NHS. On the campaign trail for a No vote in Scotland, Abrahams said: “His claim that the NHS in Scotland is at risk of privatisation if Scotland stays part of the unions is disingenuous to say the least. “Health policy is already devolved to the Scottish Parliament. The only way the NHS in Scotland will be privatised is if the […]

    Read more →