Edward Lister comments

MQT on 2014-10-22
Session date: 
October 22, 2014
Question By: 
Tom Copley
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Do you agree with your Chief of Staff that "£360 a week [for an apartment at the Mount Pleasant site]…is very much affordable"?


Answer for Edward Lister comments

Answer for Edward Lister comments

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Of course I agree, as ever, with Eddie  Lister [Chief of Staff and Deputy Mayor for Policy and Planning] and I would point out that the rent you are referring to, £360 a week, is for a three‑bedroom flat in the Mount Pleasant scheme, which at 40% of market rent is almost entirely covered by the Local Housing Allowance (LHA).  There you go.  What could be more affordable than that?  I would just remind you that the success of the GLA negotiators was to get the Mount Pleasant scheme to double its quotient of affordable housing.


Tom Copley AM:  LHA?  Sorry, are these properties going to be rented out privately, Mr Mayor?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  No, we are talking here about ‑‑


Tom Copley AM:  It is not the LHA you should be referring to; it is the Housing Benefit, which you ought to know is different.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  We are talking here about the LHA, which will cover the vast bulk of the cost, 40% of the market rent.


Tom Copley AM:  Even if it did not, we are talking about the Housing Benefit on properties let out by housing associations here at £360 a week.  The Housing Benefit cap at the moment is £500 a week.  That is correct, is it not, yes?  You look like you are trying to catch up.  That leaves, by my calculation, £140 a week for everything else.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  No, it is 40% of the market rent.  For a three‑bedroom flat, we are talking about £340 per week.


Tom Copley AM:  Sorry, the total benefit cap is £500 a week, yes.  That leaves £140 a week left over for the household after the rent has been paid.  If you take all the sort of household essentials; food, heating, lighting, transport ‑‑


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  No, the LHA will cover £350.95 per week for a three‑bedroom flat.  You are covering the entire cost ‑‑


Tom Copley AM:  I was referring to the total.  I was referring ‑‑


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ of a home at 40% of market rent.  That is what you want, the whole thing paid for by the taxpayer, and of course that is a fantastic thing for those who are living in that accommodation ‑‑


Tom Copley AM:  Hang on a minute, Mr Mayor.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ and there will be lots of people who do not qualify for those benefits.


Tom Copley AM:  I am referring here to the total cap of £500 a week and the rent is £360 a week.  That leaves £140 a week left over for people to spend. If you look at household essentials like food, clothing ‑‑


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  £140 of benefits left over.


Tom Copley AM:  ‑‑ like transport, like heating and things like that, it comes, by my calculation, to about £190 a week.  People are not going to be able to afford to live in these properties under the caps which have been implemented by your Government.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  No.  Most people will think it very fair and indeed more than fair that there are a lot of people - double the number that were previously going to be able to do it - who will be able to live on affordable rents under the Mount Pleasant scheme.  The registered providers will be obliged to ensure the rents do not exceed the LHA.  Imagine being able to live in a fantastic scheme like that entirely at the taxpayers’ expense.  That is fantastic.  That is the Labour vision.  That is what you want.  Is that not wonderful?  There will be lots of people who think, “Actually, it is all right for them. What about us who do not qualify?


Tom Copley AM:  We can talk about the fact that it is £360 ‑‑


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  “What about us who do not qualify for an entirely taxpayer-funded scheme?”


Tom Copley AM:  Mr Mayor, £360 ‑‑


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  With your vision, we understand what you are trying to do.


Tom Copley AM:  Mr Mayor, your vision is to be ‑‑


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  We understand what you are trying to do, but in the end what you have to do is build housing for absolutely everybody, not just for people 


Tom Copley AM:  Hang on.  Your vision appears to be here, your proposed ‑‑


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ who qualify for their entire rent to be paid for by the taxpayer and ‑‑


Tom Copley AM:  Hang on, you have imposed this so‑called affordable rent on London, which means that a three‑bed property, so‑called affordable, is going to be let out for £360 a week, paid for by the Housing Benefit; whereas if you had stuck with social rent, which is let out at 30% to 40% of market rents, the rents would be lower.  What you are essentially doing is you are pushing up the Housing Benefit bill by imposing this ridiculous affordable rent, are you not?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I thought you were in favour of it.  I thought you were in favour of affordable rent.


Tom Copley AM:  We are in favour of social rent, not this up-to-80% affordable that you have imposed on London, Mr Mayor.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Then you are going to get what you want because at social rents levels ‑‑


Tom Copley AM:  It is not just me.  Let us talk about ‑‑


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ you will have families who are paying for three‑beds. 


Tom Copley AM:  I have here - hang on, Mr Mayor - Keith Exford, Chief Executive of Affinity Sutton ‑‑


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): They will be paying £340 per week.  The registered providers will not be able to go above the LHA rate and you will get your dream.


Tom Copley AM:  ‑‑ who said,


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


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  You will get your dream, which is people living in flats entirely at the taxpayers’ expense with £350 a week in LHA covering the entire rent.


Tom Copley AM:  What do you say to Keith Exford 


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  What I say to you is you need to think ‑‑


Tom Copley AM:  ‑‑ and other Housing Association chief executives who say that people cannot afford to live in this so‑called affordable housing that you have created?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  On the contrary, we have created more affordable housing and we have increased the number of social rents and mixed tenures and the whole gamut of products, but what you need to consider ‑‑


Tom Copley AM:  OK.  We will come to that in my next question.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ is the number of council homes that you built ‑‑


Tom Copley AM:  No, I have finished.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ under Labour and you need to apologise.


Tom Copley AM:  No, now he is moving on to other things.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  You need to apologise for 13 years of Labour misrule ‑‑


Tom Copley AM:  You are not answering the question that I asked.  You have moved off ‑‑


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ in which you failed and in fact you have yourself called upon the Labour Party to apologise, have you not?


Tom Copley AM:  No, he is wasting time now.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Yes.  The Labour Party should apologise and you should apologise yourself.