This Assembly notes that, amongst other notable features, housing in the capital is characterised by:
- Insufficient supply of family housing across all tenures – as the Mayor states in his Housing Strategy, “housing supply in London has failed to keep pace with demand for several decades.”
- Overcrowding – 18 per cent of all rented homes in London are overcrowded (43 per cent in the social-rented sector), while in 2011 there were 74,835 households in London on a waiting list for a property with three or more bedrooms – over 20 per cent of the total list.
- Carbon intensive construction materials and poor build quality – Building quality homes to last for centuries must be a priority. The UK’s housing stock is amongst the least energy efficient in Europe ; alongside which the Mayor’s climate change mitigation and energy strategy commits London to an emissions reduction target of 60 per cent of 1990 levels by 2025.
- The loss of social housing – with London house prices and rents continuing to rise while real incomes fall, constrained financing opportunities for developers and Registered Providers facing deep cuts to capital grants for house-building, councils are once again finding that they need to step in.
- An ‘out of control’ private-rented sector – Rents are on the rise, dramatically outstripping both inflation and wage increases. This is making the sector increasingly unaffordable for those on low incomes and it is becoming unaffordable for many on average incomes. The cost of increasing rents falls on both the public purse and the individual. It is becoming unsustainable.
However, while the Assembly acknowledges the Mayor’s recognition of these issues in his various strategies, we believe he should have done more through his 2014-15 Budget to:
- Accelerate the supply of affordable housing in the capital, particularly family-sized homes;
- Increase the proportion of homes with three and more bedrooms in developments subsidised by the GLA;
- Re-appraise the headline environmental standards for construction of GLA-subsidised housing and consider a target of building to Code for Sustainable Homes Level 5, or higher;
- Set up a ‘Decent Homes Fund’ to provide low cost loans to landlords to improve the quality of homes in the private rented sector;
- Ensure that minimum energy efficiency standards are achieved in the private rented sector by 2018, in accordance with the Energy Act (2011);
- Assist boroughs in using the full range of enforcement powers at their disposal to crack down on rogue landlords operating in the private rented sector; and
- Fund a ‘know your rights’ website aimed at private sector tenants and promote this widely using his unique access to the advertising space available through Transport for London.
This Assembly calls on the Mayor to allocate funds to the above proposals, which would represent a substantive and positive step towards addressing the widescale market failure that afflicts housing in the capital