London Plan alterations and affordable housing need

MQT on 2014-02-26
Session date: 
February 26, 2014
Question By: 
Nicky Gavron
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


You are consulting on your further alterations to the London Plan. How do you know what is the need for affordable housing in London?


Answer for London Plan alterations and affordable housing need

Answer for London Plan alterations and affordable housing need

Answered By: 
The Mayor

The way we calculate the need for affordable homes is obviously to an extent difficult to base on population projections and so on which can go up and down.  Interestingly, I see the birth rates have suddenly started going down again, having massively increased in the last couple of years.  I saw in this morning’s paper that we have had a record low birth rate.  Fascinating.  It is a symptom of the economic recovery, apparently.  The analysis is set out in the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), which was published on the website alongside the Further Alterations to the London Plan (FALP), and that identifies an overall need of 49,000 across the life of the plan.  I suppose that is to 2018.  Of those, 25,600 should be affordable. 


Nicky Gavron AM:  Thank you for that introduction.  It means I do not have to say so much.  That is good.  Can we just establish something?  Just a yes or no.  You do agree that policy should be based on evidence, yes?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Yes, I do.  Yes.


Nicky Gavron AM:  All right.  Your evidence base, which we colloquially call the ‘SHMA’ and which you just referred to, published with the FALP last month, identifies how many homes we need at an affordable rent.  I want to concentrate on affordable rent, if that is all right with you?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Yes.


Nicky Gavron AM:  What it does not do is to break that number down into how many homes are needed at different levels because affordable rent is up to 80%.  It does not say different levels of rent, for instance, for families ‑‑


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  It would be an average.  It would be an average of 65%, as you know. 


Nicky Gavron AM:  It does not break it down.  It does not in fact give the evidence.  Why did you not get the evidence?  It gives you the overall numbers, but it does not give you the evidence.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  On the Affordable Rent Programme, the plan is that there should be an average across London of 65%.  Clearly that will allow some to be at 40% and some to be higher.  That is very clear.  For the evidence for what is necessary, to a certain extent, you have to go on population growth.  That is what we think is going to be what London will need.  The city is going to be 9 million by the end of this decade and possibly 10 million by the end of the next decade.  That is how we have reached the figures for demand for housing.


Nicky Gavron AM:  Yes, I am very clear about all that.  Really, what we are talking about is a difference between evidence and policy.  You have a policy which does have your 65% and does break down into targets your affordable rent.  It actually says, if you have to be very precise, 10.7% of homes - that is 10 out of 100 - should be at a social rent level.  You have no evidence in your SHMA for that, none at all.  You have not broken it down.  You have all your boroughs coming in and telling you at your examination in public how much their need is and telling you that, but you have not gathered the evidence.  How can you have that policy that it should only be 10% when you do not have the evidence?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  What we have is a projection for the number of affordable homes that we need to have over the lifetime of the plan and how much per year.  It is a massive increase.  No administration has ever delivered anything like this number of affordable homes, even though, as I say, we have already done a record number.  We are going up to 25,600 and across the board there will be an average of 65%.  There will be a considerable number obviously at much lower than that.


Nicky Gavron AM:  What you cannot measure you cannot manage.  You do not have the evidence.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  We are doing as well as we possibly can with the data that we have.  As everybody knows, demographic projections are very much a “mug’s game”.  If you look at what is happening to the population figures this year as opposed to last year, last year we seemed to have an incredible post-Olympic baby-boom and this year it seems to be less clear.  What is going to happen to London’s population in the next 10 or 20 years is to an certain extent guesswork.  This is what we think we need.