Affordable Housing

Meeting: 
MQT on 2014-09-17
Session date: 
September 17, 2014
Reference: 
2014/3202
Question By: 
Tom Copley
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

With hindsight, would you agree that you misjudged the affordable housing reforms made as part of the Revised Early Minor Alterations to the London Plan?

Answer

Answer for Affordable Housing

Answer for Affordable Housing

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Thank you, Tom.  I do not agree though with your question.  The introduction of affordable rent will enable us to build loads more homes than we would otherwise ‑‑

Affordable rent has enabled us to deliver far more homes than the other model would have done.  Probably 1,000 only would have been delivered between 2015 and 2018.  The funding that we have available means that will do about 45,000.  We have allocations in place for most of that delivery.  

I will just remind you that this year, in all likelihood, we will build more homes in London than in any year since 1982 or something like that, which is probably before you were born, Tom. 

Tom Copley AM:  Yes, he knows when I was born.  

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  We are building the most homes in your lifetime.  Is that not something?  How do you feel? 

Tom Copley AM:  Rather than discussing when I was born, Inside Housing, of course, has reported that the Mayor’s team has been scrabbling to persuade London landlords to increase their commitment under his £1.25 billion Affordable Homes Programme ‑‑ 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  You would expect us to scrabble. 

Tom Copley AM:  ‑‑ after a deadlock on terms led to a radically reduced bid.  It is the case, is it not, that you went back to housing associations and you pleaded with them to increase their bids? 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Are you faulting us for going and scrabbling and trying to get housing associations to increase their commitments to build homes?  What is wrong with that?  Why should we not? 

Tom Copley AM:  First of all I am asking, that is the case though, is it not?  Would you talk about ‑‑ 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Why should we not work to deliver more for Londoners?  What could possibly be wrong with that? 

Tom Copley AM:  We should talk about the reason why it is the case and the reason why you had to go back to them is because housing associations are very reluctant to bid for money under your new affordable rent programme.  Is that not the case? 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Loads of people are very reluctant to do things at first but they need persuasion.  That is what we exercise. 

Tom Copley AM:  Your reforms for affordable housing although are opposed by the vast majority of London boroughs, of which only one wrote in in support during the consultation stage.  They oppose you because you redefine affordable housing, and you increase rent which makes them affordable to the majority of people that need affordable housing.  As a consequence, we now have housing associations that are backing away from funding and reducing the amount of affordable housing they want to build.  One housing association chief executive has said we do not want to be creating tenancies that are doomed to fail.  Do you acknowledge that you have discouraged housing associations from bidding for money from you for affordable housing? 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I really do not know what you are talking about because we built more affordable homes in this mayoralty than the previous mayoralty did.  We are on track to deliver 100,000.  According to the annual monitoring report, of the total supply of new housing between 2010 and 2013, 37% was affordable.  You are seeing a very, very strong and very successful programme. 

Tom Copley AM:  I am sure you would acknowledge the fact that of course it was your distinguished predecessor who negotiated £5 billion from the last Labour Government, which you oversaw.  You will credit your predecessor for that.  I am sure you would not want to take credit for something that you did not achieve yourself. 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I would certainly remind the Assembly Member who pointed out that it was Labour policies on housing that meant that the entire  -- 

Tom Copley AM:  We are here again, so I better move on. 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ the Labour administration, they built fewer council homes than Margaret Thatcher [former Prime Minister] did in one year.  It was Tom Copley who pointed out that the Labour Party should apologise for its dismal record on housing ‑‑ 

Tom Copley AM:  Can I point out to you, Mr Mayor ‑‑ 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ and I look forward to your grovelling apology. 

Tom Copley AM:  Mr Mayor, can I point out to you what Keith Exford, who is the Chief Executive of Affinity Sutton, said?  He was until recently leader of the G15 group.  He said, 

“We are concerned because many of the boroughs nominate traditional social housing tenants who cannot afford the higher rent.”

This is a legitimate concern, is it not? 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Do not forget that the average of the rents is 65%.  Of course, many of the rents are set at an old social rent level and ‑‑ 

Tom Copley AM:  Will you acknowledge this is a problem?  You have created it ‑‑ 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ those products are there to help people who are in that particular need. 

Tom Copley AM:  You are imposing a product on the boroughs ‑‑ 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  The thing to do is to build more homes.  Of those more homes, more will therefore be available at social rent levels. 

Tom Copley AM:  You are imposing a product on boroughs and on housing associations.  There are very serious legitimate concerns that the people on low incomes will not be able to afford the rent.  That is a serious problem.  

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  There is one member of the Labour Party who is willing to say something about what they would do in these circumstances.  Mr David Lammy [MP for Tottenham] said something the other day that he would have a totally different policy.  He would not have average rents at 65%.  He would have them at 60%.  Big deal.  There is absolutely ‑‑ 

Tom Copley AM:  Mr Mayor ‑‑ 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  What is your policy?  What is your approach?  Our approach, our policy is – 

Tom Copley AM:  I am here to question you about your policies, Mr Mayor.  I am here to question you about your policies.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Our policy is one that has enabled the delivery of thousands more affordable homes every year -- 

Tom Copley AM:  We have entered the waffle zone, so I will wind up.  Thank you, Chair. 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I would like to hear.  You disagree with David Lammy, who I think is going to be the Labour mayoral candidate.  If you disagree with David Lammy, then speak now, or is it another issue on which the Labour Members of the Assembly Group have absolutely nothing to say?  What is your policy?

Roger Evans AM (Chairman):  We are moving into uncharted territory here. 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  What is it?  Are you in favour of  -- 

Roger Evans AM (Chairman):  The next question is about accident and emergency closures in west London. 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  No, I am fed up with you asking me vacuous questions and then not having any ideas. 

Roger Evans AM (Chairman):  Mr Mayor, focus.  Accident and emergency ‑‑ 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  There should be at least a reasoned flow of  -- You should be coming up with things.