Affordable Housing

MQT on 2015-12-16
Session date: 
December 16, 2015
Question By: 
Tom Copley
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Can the Mayor update the Assembly on the implications of the November 2015 Spending Review specifically for social and Affordable Rent housing in London?


Answer for Affordable Housing

Answer for Affordable Housing

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Yes.  Thanks, Tom.  The Government is embarking on a massive programme of building homes for Londoners and indeed across the country.  As you know, we are now building more than ever before.  What I want to see is a mixture of tenures so that there is affordable rent and part buy/part rent in the mix as well.  We are still in negotiations with the Government about exactly how the housing build is going to play out in the city.

Tom Copley AM:  The [Comprehensive] Spending Review (CSR) did not pledge any new money for either social rent or affordable rented housing but will instead put all of the funding into things like starter homes, which, as I am sure you know, in London cost up to £450,000 and, according to research by Shelter, would be unaffordable except to people on the highest incomes.  In fact, there is no income limit on starter homes as there is for all other forms of affordable housing, including part rent/part buy.

Your own evidence base says that we need to build 15,722 new social rented homes a year between now and 2034/35.  Where are these homes going to come from?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Again, if I may say so ‑ and I repeat the answer I gave to Nicky Gavron [AM] ‑ you are out of tune with some of more sensible things that are being said by the Labour front bench, which now ‑‑

Tom Copley AM:  I heard what you said to Nicky.  Can I just say that John Healey [MP] has called for us to build 100,000 new social homes per year in this country?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Can I finish the answer?

Tom Copley AM:  John Healey, on our front bench, does recognise the need for social housing.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Would you mind if I finish my answer?  There was a great deal of emphasis yesterday from the Labour front bench on the fall in home ownership in Britain and indeed in London over the last two decades.  A great deal of stress was placed on the need to help people into home ownership and that is entirely correct.

As I said to you before, we have a situation in London where 33% of the accommodation in the centre of the city is social housing already.  The people who are really struggling ‑‑

Tom Copley AM:  Yes, but ‑‑

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Can I just finish my answer?

Tom Copley AM:  You are repeating what you said to Nicky Gavron and that is on the record. 

As I said, despite whatever percentage of social housing we have now, your own assessment of need says we need to be building just under 16,000 more social units every year?  Is that assessment of need wrong?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Well, we built a record number of affordable homes over ‑‑

Tom Copley AM:  I am asking you how you are going to achieve what we need to be building in the future.  Is that assessment of need wrong?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  No.  We are going to continue, as I say, with a mixture of tenures.  Affordable Rent will continue to be part of it.  We will continue to build a record number of affordable homes.

Tom Copley AM:  You will be aiming to build 16,000 social units a year?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I know that you have an obsession with affordable ‑‑ with people living in, basically, entirely ‑‑ in flats ‑‑

Tom Copley AM:  I have an obsession with homes that people can afford to live in.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I know that you defend the idea of senior Labour politicians living, basically, at the taxpayers’ expense in social housing, which is ‑‑

Tom Copley AM:  If I could just interject there, in your Government’s rush to get the housing association debt off the books, it has now said that ‘pay to stay’ for housing association tenants will be optional.  Pay to stay is for households earning over £40,000 a year.  That is two nurses, Mr Mayor.  Do you think two nurses should be able to live in social housing or not?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  If you think that a City Hall Deputy Mayor under Ken Livingstone [former Mayor of London] earning £125,000 should be living in social housing, you are in cloud cuckoo land.

Tom Copley AM:  What do you think about the two nurses living in social housing, Mr Mayor?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Really, you need to get with the programme and you need to think about the needs of Londoners who really need social housing ‑‑

Tom Copley AM:  I am thinking about the needs of Londoners when I say we need to be building 16,000 homes a year.  That is what the planners at City Hall have come up with.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ and not the people on massive incomes who are, in my view, abusing the system.

Tom Copley AM:  Thank you.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I really find it incredible that you defend that system.  It is unbelievable.

Tom Copley AM:  Thank you very much, Chair.

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  OK, Mr Mayor.  We will go to the next question under the name of Assembly Member Shah on the 13 appliances.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I am sorry.  I am being heckled.  They say my answer is disgraceful.

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  Mr Mayor, I did hear, on that occasion, heckling and I am saying to Members: pay respect to other Members and let us get their questions to the Mayor so that he can answer them.