Housing in London

MQT on 2016-05-25
Session date: 
May 25, 2016
Question By: 
Tom Copley
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


In light of your "urgent audit of City Hall's preparedness to tackle the housing crisis" - which discovered that the previous Mayor left office with the capital facing affordable home delivery at near-standstill, an acute construction skills crisis, and a flawed process of identifying public land for homes (Mayor of London, Mayor reveals full extent of London’s housing crisis, 16.05.16) - how will you begin addressing the challenge of providing the homes Londoners desperately need?


Answer for Housing in London

Answer for Housing in London

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you, Chairman.  As I made clear throughout my campaign, tackling London’s housing crisis is my biggest priority.  I was shocked to discover so little progress had been made under the last mayor.  London’s planning pipeline of new homes given consent last year contained just 13% affordable housing.  The former Mayor delivered the lowest number of new affordable homes since current records began in 1991, just 4,880.  Boris Johnson has left the cupboard bare when it comes to delivering affordable housing in the city.  This appalling legacy will be a millstone around the neck of hard-pressed Londoners for years to come as it typically takes two to three years to build schemes and get them occupied. 


I intend to move quickly to start putting this right, starting with getting TfL to release hundreds of their surplus sites to support new housing delivery.  I also plan to convene an alliance of all the organisations who are building homes in London - including boroughs, housing associations, developers and investors - to make the case to government for the powers and resources we need to deliver.  I will be working with this new alliance to get to grips with construction skill training that needs a radical overhaul if we are to have the workers to build the homes we need.  Annual construction apprenticeship starts in London average just 7% of the national total.  A total of 100,000 planned apprenticeship starts were missed in the Mayor’s second term.


Tom Copley AM:  Thank you, Mr Mayor.  I listened with interest to your exchange with Assembly Member 

Devenish earlier.  For his benefit, because he seemed to think the last Mayor’s record was so brilliant, the last Mayor never exceeded the number of homes that were built in 2008/09, all of which were started under his predecessor.  All of those statistics are available on the Department for Communities and Local Government’s (DCLG) website if you would like to check them.  We need to get our facts right.  The last Mayor’s record on housebuilding, as you have set out, was woeful, particularly on affordable housebuilding.


Can I turn to Homes for Londoners, which is one of your main manifesto commitments?  Your manifesto refers to Homes for Londoners directly commissioning and constructing new homes.  Do you see Homes for Londoners as delivering a new layer of municipal housing?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  There is no reason why it could not.


Tom Copley AM:  Excellent.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  To give you the context, if the Mayor walks away from this it leads to the situation you have talked about.  To give you an example, the former Mayor gave up chairing the London Housing Board in 2012.  Homes for Londoners will be working with councils, housing associations and developers.  There is no reason why we could not do as you suggest.


Tom Copley AM:  Fantastic.  That is very exciting.  I know this is early days but do you have any idea whether there will be a board, for example?  Will there be a whole range of people on a board offering their advice and expertise?  Is that how you envisage this?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Deputy Mayor for Housing James Murray was appointed in the last day or two.  The days have blurred into one.  He has already started to meet with council leaders, housing associations and developers.  There are employers in London who have problems recruiting and retaining and have bought buildings for their staff, almost like halls of residences.  It is quite remarkable that in 2016 London they are having to do that.  They may be interested in joining Homes for Londoners.  One of the things we are looking at is the structure and constitution.  What I do not want to do is spend money on structures, bodies and buildings.  What I want to do is go in and fix London’s housing crisis.


Tom Copley AM:  Given how influential the office of Mayor is, are you going to be looking to attract institutional investment and perhaps some of this overseas investment that currently goes into buying things off-plan, encouraging people to instead put their money into a pot of money here that can pay them a return on their investment but will be used to deliver housing that is more productive and will suit the needs of Londoners better than luxury flats?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  It is a very important point you raise.  Nobody is against people investing in London and trying to get a good rate of return.  The issue is using our homes as gold bricks for investment.  For example, people may want to invest in the wholesale side of building homes and find out the financial side of things.  That is in stark contrast to buying homes - I call them “homes” rather than “units” - off-plan as an investment that are left empty.  You are right to remind me that there are lots of people who want to invest in our great city.  We should encourage that.


Tom Copley AM:  Thank you.  Thank you, Mr Chairman.