Questions to the Mayor on his Final Draft Consolidated Budget (Supplementary) [5]

Session date: 
February 23, 2015
Question By: 
Stephen Knight
Liberal Democrats
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Stephen Knight AM:  Mr Mayor, whatever the tactics earlier of the protesters raising the issue of lack of affordable housing in the capital, they did at least identify a very important issue, did they not?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  They did.


Stephen Knight AM:  The lack of affordable housing is, to quote you, Mr Mayor, “the gravest crisis facing our city”.  At the last meeting, Mr Mayor, I asked you whether or not you understood that instead of cutting the council tax over the next few years, as you propose, if that money were ring-fenced for funding affordable housing together with the Olympic precept that is due to drop out, there would be enough money to finance a £2 billion affordable housebuilding programme in London.  Is that not a higher priority, Mr Mayor, than delivering what is essentially a trivial cut in council tax?


Answer for Questions to the Mayor on his Final Draft Consolidated Budget (Supplementary) [5]

Answer for Questions to the Mayor on his Final Draft Consolidated Budget (Supplementary) [5]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I do not think that the council tax funding would make much difference to what is a serious crisis, which we are addressing in the most thoroughgoing way that any London government has ever seen.  We are building more homes now than the city has built for 40 years or so.  We have plans in place for at least 15,000 new affordable homes between 2015 and 2018.  We are coming forward and we announced on ‑‑


Stephen Knight AM:  Mr Mayor, if you used this revenue, you could support an extra £2 billion of investment.  It more than doubles the programme you are talking about.  It is something you could do as Mayor to solve this “gravest crisis facing the city”.  Instead, you are choosing a small cut in council tax.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  That is nonsense.  Your proposal does not work.  What we are doing instead is a much more sensible way forward, which is to fund the London Housing Bank with £200 million to get sites going and using purpose-built private rent models.  We have the nine new housing that we confirmed on Friday ‑‑


Stephen Knight AM:  Mr Mayor, you are just listing the existing programmes.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  The reason I am listing them, with great respect, is because they are delivering huge results.


Stephen Knight AM:  Mr Mayor, the question for you is: why are you choosing small cuts in council tax rather than using that revenue to finance a huge new investment in affordable homes?  You have said it is “the gravest crisis facing the city”.  Surely it should be a higher priority than small cuts in council tax?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  We are addressing that crisis with the biggest package of measures this city has ever seen and you are seeing a massive increase in the number of homes.


Stephen Knight AM:  It is not enough, Mr Mayor, is it?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I repeat: it is fair to Londoners when times have been very tight to continue to bear down on council tax, which is an inescapable tax faced by everybody.  I know that it is the policy of the Liberal Democrats to whack up council tax but it is not one that we support.