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Housing ‘different for London’

  • By Jim Ranger

New research by Ipsos MORI for London Councils reveals that over 88 per cent of Londoners asked believe that the capital is facing a housing crisis. 

The importance of housing to Londoners is in dramatic contrast the rest of the country, where Ipsos MORI’s monthly Issues Index shows housing as only the fifth most important issue behind immigration, the NHS, the economy, and unemployment. The issue is also increasingly important for Londoners.  

Mayor Sir Steve Bullock, Executive member for housing at London Councils, says: “The government needs to listen to Londoners and understand that when it comes to housing, it’s different for London. This is an issue which is already grinding down the quality of life for people from a wide range of backgrounds and threatens to undermine the economic growth of the capital.” 

In July, London Councils wrote to the Secretary of State setting out its concerns about the impact of the government’s proposed housing policy, which prioritises extending the Right to Buy to housing association tenants and paying for this by the sale of high value council housing. 

Mayor Bullock added: “The high values of our housing means London boroughs are likely to be hit hardest when it comes to selling off council homes. 

“It is critical that this policy increases the overall supply of housing, the supply of affordable housing in particular, and maintains London’s social mix. We have been urging ministers to ensure that money from the proposed sale of council housing in London will be dedicated 100 per cent to addressing London's housing crisis. 

“With the publication of the government’s Housing Bill we now fear that without a serious commitment to working with boroughs overall housing policy could reduce the number of affordable homes in the capital,” added Mayor Bullock.

"The DCLG has published no technical studies on the impact of its policies – no concrete assurance that its proposals will not exacerbate our housing crisis. It is clear that we now need a separate housing policy focusing on London and the South East. The government must respond to this urgently.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

  1. London Councils commissioned independent researchers Ipsos MORI to conduct a poll of Londoners, with a particular focus on housing, devolution and public services. Some questions asked in a similar poll in 2013 were included to look at how views of Londoners may have changed over time. A telephone survey of 1,000 residents aged 18+ living in Greater London using Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) took place between 27 August and 7 September 2015.
  2. In its national survey asking ‘What do you see as the most/other important issues facing Britain today?’ 56 per cent of respondents mentioned immigration, 36 per cent mentioned the NHS, 25 per cent mentioned the economy and 17 per cent, unemployment. In the 2015 London Survey 54 per cent mentioned housing, 41 per cent mentioned transport and 27 per cent mentioned population/community.
  3. In response to the question ‘To what extent, if at all, do you personally feel that concerns about the cost of your housing cause you stress these days?’ 54 per cent of all respondents in the London survey said 'a fair amount' or a great deal'. 75 per cent of those in rented accommodation said 'a fair amount or a great deal'.
  4. The Institute for Fiscal Studies in its analysis of the proposals stated that local authorities will be required to support replacement homes with substantially less capital than the value of the homes they are replacing. It is likely to be extremely challenging to find sufficient finance to make up the difference given current borrowing constraints. In practice, the policy is likely to mean that affordable housing in certain parts of London will become unrealistic.
  5. The affordability of private rents is of crucial importance to boroughs, as it is largely into the private rented sector (PRS) that boroughs will seek to place households that they have a statutory duty to house. If there are not affordable properties available locally boroughs will be forced to look further afield in order to find sustainable tenancies. Should the PRS become increasingly unaffordable existing tenancies could be destabilised leading to more households presenting as homeless to councils.
  6. Under Universal Credit, the subsidy that boroughs receive from government to cover these costs will be based on future LHA levels so a growing gap between the affordability of the PRS and LHA rates will translate into extra costs for boroughs.