Draft housing strategy
That the Assembly notes the Draft Housing Strategy.
Further, this Assembly notes that total housing completions fell to 21,000 in 2012/13; an even lower number than during the financial crisis. This means that to achieve the target set out in the Draft Housing Strategy, London requires more than a doubling of current delivery levels. Since the de facto prohibition on public-sector house building (via local authorities) was introduced in the 1980s, the market has never provided sufficient supply of housing to meet demand and the Mayor’s Draft Housing Strategy provides no substantive route-map to how the market will meet the Mayor’s target of 42,000 homes a year for the next 25 years 1.
To correct the market failure that afflicts the provision of an adequate supply of new homes, this Assembly believes that the GLA should itself intervene directly in the housing market by establishing a London Housing Corporation to commission the construction of new homes. This approach should be reflected in the final iteration of the Mayor’s Housing Strategy.
Of the Mayor’s Draft Housing Strategy target to build 42,000 new homes per year, the aim is that more than half (22,000) will be homes for market sale, while that only 10.7% of all new homes in London should be charged at or around target/social rent levels – a further proportion will be charged at the higher end of the Government’s ‘Affordable Rent’ product, charged at up to the maximum of 80% of market rent2 .
This Assembly believes that such a low number of homes at genuinely affordable rent levels fails to allocate sufficient housing for those on low-incomes. Given the unique characteristics of London’s housing market and the consequence this has for rent levels, this Assembly rejects the Government’s definition of ‘Affordable Rent’ and calls on the Mayor to, as a minimum, reallocate the proportion of his housing target reserved for ‘Affordable Rent’ to the lower rent category outlined in the Draft Housing Strategy.
This Assembly rejects the Draft Housing Strategy’s policy that family-sized housing constitutes “three or more bedrooms”.3 This policy does little to incentivise the construction of affordable housing with four, five or even six bedrooms. This is despite the undoubted need for such larger properties. This Assembly therefore believes that the Draft Housing Strategy should outline a set of separate targets for larger affordable homes above three bedrooms.
This Assembly believes the Mayor should bring forward proposals for rent stabilisation in London’s private rented sector and seek the relevant statutory approval to pilot such a mechanism in London. This study should examine foreign comparisons – most notably Germany and Switzerland – where stable rent policies have resulted in much larger and better functioning private rented sectors than currently enjoyed by Londoners.
This Assembly believes that there is insufficient evidence to support the Mayor’s claim that overseas investment in London residential property makes, on balance, a positive contribution to addressing London’s housing crisis. The Assembly therefore believes that the Draft Housing Strategy should be revised to take account of the latest objective research on the matter and commission research by the GLA into the practice of overseas investment in London’s housing market.
Taking in to account the serious misgivings outlined, the Assembly hereby resolves to reject the Mayor’s draft housing strategy.
1 ‘Homes for London: The London Housing Strategy, Draft for Consultation’, November 2013, p.16