Getting a home we can afford

Dave Hill writes in his Guardian blog about Boris Johnson’s housing plans for London. What could be more important to Londoners than housing that is affordable for all, of a decent quality, energy efficient and in the place they want to live? He has done great work on this topic, but he misses some basic facts and figures that expose just what Boris’ priorities are.


All the evidence shows that London needs a mix of new social, intermediate and market (private) housing that is evenly spread around the city – much like this photo, which I took in south Camberwell. The most pressing need is for social housing, and to end “segregation by tenure”, where your income determines which ghettoised community you can live in. Thankfully my patch is pretty integrated, but go down into Dulwich or up to Elephant & Castle and you quickly enter predominantly rich and poor areas.

But Boris’ plans only deliver around half the needed social housing in the next ten years. His  Strategic Housing Market Assessment, partly based on central government research, says we need roughly 18,200 new affordable homes every year, and that 80% of these should be social housing. But Boris’ Housing Strategy and his London Plan set targets for only 13,200 new affordable homes, of which only 60% will be social. Market and intermediate housing for middle class and rich people will exceed targets, whilst social housing falls disastrously short. We won’t even meet growing demand, let alone deal with the backlog of families in overcrowded homes, B&Bs and temporary accommodation.

That’s not all. Alongside the lack of supply, parts of London suffer from terrible segregation by income. Rich people live in one area, poor people in another. Dave Hill has exposed the contemporary vanguard of this old Tory policy in Hammersmith and Fulham. Boris has removed the requirement to build affordable housing into every new development, and his London Plan only recommends that more private housing is built in predominantly social housing areas. No word on building social housing in wealthy areas.

Until Boris delivers a strategy that meets the demands thrown up by his own analysis, London is just going to keep getting less affordable for the average Londoner.