James Murray guest blog - Empowering London to deliver the homes it needs
31 May 2018
Londoners know that affordable housing is the greatest challenge facing the capital today – and London First members know it is the biggest obstacle when hiring and retaining employees too.
That is why the Mayor’s London Housing Strategy, published last month, sets out his vision for making sure London remains a city where people and business can thrive. It sets out what he will do with his current powers and resources, and what others including national Government need to do to truly fix the housing crisis.
Its five priorities are:
Building homes for Londoners: identifying and bringing forward more land for housing, investing in homes and infrastructure, diversifying the homebuilding industry, and increasing capacity within the construction industry;
More genuinely affordable homes: establishing clear definitions of what affordable means for Londoners on different incomes including social rent, working towards 50 per cent of all new homes being genuinely affordable, and new steps to protect London’s existing social housing;
High quality homes and inclusive neighbourhoods: building homes and neighbourhoods that are safe, well-designed, and environmentally sustainable, where local people are involved in decisions about homebuilding;
A fairer deal for private renters and leaseholders: improving the quality, stability, and affordability of private rented accommodation, and pushing for the improvement and reform of leasehold; and
Tackling homelessness and helping rough sleepers: working with councils, charities, and national Government to help people facing homelessness, and to make sure there is way off the street for every rough sleeper.
Over the past two years, the Mayor has secured from Government a greater share of the national affordable housing budget for London than ever before. He has set ambitious housing targets for all London boroughs, particularly in outer London, and is showing he will intervene where necessary to make land available. And he has overhauled the approach to density and small sites to boost homebuilding near town centres and transport hubs across the capital.
But as London First members know well, there is only so far the Mayor can go without support from national Government. We know that for a true step change in the number of new homes built in London, we urgently need comprehensive devolution of funding and powers to the capital.
London First have been a fantastic partner in showing the role businesses can play in tackling the housing crisis – such as through their work promoting the take-up of tenancy deposit loans amongst their members. They are a key ally through their public support of the Mayor’s calls for the reform and devolution we need to truly fix the housing crisis.
Government will listen when London speaks with one voice, so let us be clear: the housing crisis is the biggest threat to London’s future – we have started to make a difference in the past two years, and we urgently need Government to empower us to go further.
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