According to the Mayor, 42,000 new houses a year are planned for the capital over the next ten years. Many of these houses will be bought by global super-rich vultures who seem intent on buying up London properties as investments, not homes. Most of the rest will go to highly paid professionals. 5,000 will be built for ‘long term private rent’ at the current soaring market levels. Of the total number of new homes Boris plans to build a mere 15,000 a year will be ‘affordable’.
Yet even this will mean nothing to the hundreds of thousands of low income Londoners desperate for decent and secure housing. 40% of these ‘affordable’ homes will be ‘low cost home ownership products’. The Mayor’s own report admits that the average annual income of people who access these schemes is £33,000 a year – over two and a half times the salary of someone working full time on minimum wage and £7,000 more than the amount of out of work benefit a family of any size can now receive in London.
For those not on £33,000 a year – which means most of London – that will leave 9000 homes a year. That is less than the 14,500 households that were accepted as homeless in London in 2012/13 and they represent the tip of the iceberg. As the Bedroom Tax and Benefit Cap bite the number of homeless families is likely to soar. There will be nowhere for these families to go if Boris gets his way.
And even these 9000 new homes will not be anything like the kind of long term social housing that is so desperately needed. These new homes will be on fixed term tenancies and the majority will charge an ‘Affordable Rent’ – which can be anything up to 80% of market rents.
Half of these homes, just 4,500, will be set at “discounted” rents. But this according to the Mayor means: “set at the lower of up to eighty percent of market rent or the local housing allowance (LHA).” The lowest Inner London LHA rate for a three bedroom property is £305.77 a week in South East London whilst in Inner North, East, South West and West London LHA rates are set at the maximum payable under housing benefit rules – £347.48 a week.
For a family with three children who are out of work, this would mean an income of just £150 a week once rent is paid. These families will not be able to afford to stay in the capital If you are unable to work due to sickness or disability, are unemployed or have caring responsibilities then you can fuck off out of town as far as Boris is concerned. As the report says: “access to these homes would be targeted to those in work in the first instance”.
A development in Stratford announced last year and aimed at low income workers was charging £323 in ‘affordable rent’ a week just for a two bedroom flat a long way from the centre of the capital. This is more than could be earned in a week even for someone on the much touted Living Wage. The so-called Living Wage isn’t even enough to pay for an Affordable Home. That politicians of all parties trot out these glib phrases with a straight face shows just how out of touch the political class has become. What is transparent bollocks to the rest of us is a credible housing strategy to these clowns.
You can read the Mayor’s proposed housing strategy at: http://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/London%20Housing%20Strategy%20consultation%20version_0.pdf
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