Isn’t it a bit weird to hear the current London mayoral candidates all spouting about doing so-called affordable housing in London as if it has just become a problem? It’s a bloody cheek when some of us have been telling them of this need for more than 20 years. Do any of them understand the concept of the common good?
We have been told, year-on-year, that the housing lists are in the hundreds of thousands, with the figure currently standing at some 355,000 and rising. Has it not been perfectly obvious that the real workers in central London cannot afford to live near to their work places?
No one expects Boris Johnson to understand or do anything about housing for the low-paid even if he has jumped on the bandwagon, but Ken Livingstone has no excuse and some audacity to now offer the young people who keep London alive and well a measly 35,000 homes a year, 10% of the need he and others have defined.
Where are these people living now while every candidate is offering these sticking plaster solutions without any hope of beating the Byzantine procurement methods we have in the UK?
It’s not a planning problem as claimed by many, nor is it a matter of cost. Most boroughs are well-endowed with available land — they just need to look more carefully at the land they have and realise there is no need to factor in the costs of site purchase.
The housing associations, which replaced so-called council housing, are corrupt in that they seek to shed any accountability for their actions, passing these on to the architects, funders and others who enable the laborious process, yet add the enormous extra cost of their own existences as well as the cost of indemnifying risk and the land to the bill.
It sounds like the 1960s Tory/Labour housing manifesto con competition all over again and the problems remain:
- There is, as far as we can tell, no distinction made between central London and the outer areas.
- Thatcher’s Right-to-Buy scheme killed off local authority housing provision.
- Tenants’ right to buy their homes with a discount of up to 60% of the market price for houses and 70% for flats has now all but gone.
- Key worker housing and micro-flats are only a part of the solution.
- Politicians’ perceptions that the provision of affordable homes hurts labour mobility is a cynical view and in the event unproven.
Is a London mayor really in control of house building in the capital? It’s still a sick old world.