Right to Buy replacement homes

Meeting: 
MQT on 2016-01-20
Session date: 
January 20, 2016
Reference: 
2016/0032
Question By: 
Darren Johnson
Organisation: 
City Hall Greens
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

Have you achieved your aim of ensuring a one-for-one replacement of homes lost through Right to Buy in London?

Answer

Answer for Right to Buy replacement homes

Answer for Right to Buy replacement homes

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Thanks, Darren.  I am delighted to tell you that the funding that the GLA receives from the Right to Buy underspend, when we have been entrusted with that funding as we have been by three boroughs, we have been able to produce a ratio of 3:1 rather than 1:1.  Across the city, since the Right to Buy programme was reinvigorated in the last couple of years since 2012/2013, we have evidence from the starts that the ratio is actually running at something like 2:1.  For instance, I think I am right in saying that since the Right to Buy programme was reinvigorated in 2012, 536 additional homes were sold in the first year and 1,139 were built.  If you look at the additional homes that were sold as a result of the programme above the forecast sales rate, you could say that the rate has actually been 2:1 for replacements. 

Darren Johnson AM:  According to a written answer from you last November, the GLA does not even collect any data on the Right to Buy sales represented by the money you are spending on replacement homes.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Such is the diligence and enthusiasm with which we try to answer your questions, Darren, that we seem to have some statistics for you today and so I am ‑‑

Darren Johnson AM:  At least I have prompted to you begin gathering data.

Jenny Jones AM:  Do something right!

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  The brief I have is that, in the three boroughs that ask us to do it, we have done it at 3:1.  Look, the crucial thing ‑‑

Darren Johnson AM:  That is just for three boroughs?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Yes.

Darren Johnson AM:  There are a further 29 boroughs that you do not have data for?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  We do not cover them.  Look, your basic point is whether social homes are being lost at an unacceptable rate under Right to Buy and whether we are failing to replace them at the rate that we need to.  Obviously, it has historically been a cause of great concern that council houses have not been replaced at a fast enough rate.  One of the important developments in the Housing Bill is that the sale of the high-value council homes will be followed by a mandatory two-for-one replacement rate in this city.

Darren Johnson AM:  If you look at the figures across London since 2012, so far only one in six homes sold in London has been replaced.  Both you and the Government promised a one-for-one replacement rate.  You have not delivered, have you?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  That is, clearly, the responsibility of councils.  I have stressed that we can only act as the GLA when the councils transfer the responsibility to us.  That has happened.  There are three councils that have done that.  Where we do it, we have been able to get three-for-one.

Darren Johnson AM:  Is it not showing that there is a clear problem right across London about the replacement of homes lost through Right to Buy?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I am concerned.  You have to set it in context.  I am concerned about replacement.  However, I would remind you that in London 33% of homes in the centre of the city - and across the city it is something like 24% - are social homes.  In the heart of this city, 33% of homes are social homes.  Across the whole of Greater London, it is 25%.  Other cities have nothing like that rate of social housing.  In New York it is something like 5%; in Paris it is something like 17%.  Yes, I am very concerned to keep the proportion high ‑‑

Darren Johnson AM:  Are you saying that we have a problem of too much social housing in London?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  No.

Darren Johnson AM:  That seems to be the thrust of your argument there.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I did not say that.  I said that we have a large amount of social housing in London and that, therefore, people should be confident about the way the city is organised and continues to be organised, particularly in view of the two-for-one replacement rate that has been secured in the Housing Bill to help with the consequences of the Right to Buy for housing association tenants.

It may be that people in this Assembly do not support the Right to Buy for housing association tenants.  I do support it.  I think it is a good thing.  I know that the Labour Party did support it and then did not support it and now cannot make up its mind.  The Labour Party may be split on it.  Their Leader probably does not support it, but lots of the Labour Members of Parliament  support it.

It is the right thing to do, but you have to make sure that you do not lose the social housing provided by the high-value council homes and we have to look to --

Darren Johnson AM:  If you look back over the past four years since April 2012 when you talked about Right to Buy being re-invigorated, we have had a net loss of over 8,000, meaning that only one in six has been replaced so far.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I have given you the figures for what the GLA group has achieved and the figures for ‑‑

Darren Johnson AM:  Strategically, across London, we have a big problem, do we not?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  We have had a net increase in affordable homes over this mayoralty and we have built a record number of affordable homes.  We are on target ‑‑

Tom Copley AM:  He is changing the definition.

Darren Johnson AM:  You are changing the definition now because I am actually talking about social homes and like-for-like one-for-one replacements, which we are not seeing, are we?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I will tell you that 86% of Londoners want to own their home or have a share in the value of their home at the very least.  I know that you basically want the state to own all housing.  That is not the right way forward.

Darren Johnson AM:  I have never said that.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  That is totally wrong.  At 33%, we have a very high rate of social housing in London by comparison with any other city already.  I am keen to protect that.  The steps that we have taken in the Housing Bill will ensure that that happens.  However, we also have to build homes that people can afford to buy and can afford to buy a share of ‑‑

Darren Johnson AM:  It is a huge mess that the next Mayor will have to pick up.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ and that is why the part-buy/part-rent scheme has been so successful.

Darren Johnson AM:  Thank you, Chair.