Livingstone launches 18-point London housing manifesto
Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Local Government
Livingstone launches 18-point London housing manifesto
Ken Livingstone today launched his housing manifesto in Tower Hamlets with a pledge to keep the policy that 50% of all new housing in London should be affordable.
Mr Livingstone said that with his policies new houses built in London had risen from 17,000 a year eight years ago when he was first elected to 33,000 last year.
He also announced that London had just achieved another record year for new affordable homes in 2007/8 with over 13,500 being completed. This is well over double the 6,300 that were built the year before he became Mayor.
With the extra resources provided by the government and by sticking to his 50% affordable housing policy Ken Livingstone pledged to deliver 50,000 new affordable homes for Londoners in the next three years.
Livingstone said that Boris Johnson’s proposal to abolish the 50% policy was the clearest indication that he represents a 'backward-looking view of London'.
Under the conditions of high upward pressure on house prices in London the effect of removing the 50% policy would be to concentrate housing policy in high priced and luxury development – pricing housing out of the hands of ordinary Londoners.
According to Mr Livingstone, what would occur can be seen from Tory controlled boroughs last year where Wandsworth saw only 11% of affordable housing built, Westminster only 11%, and Barnet only 10%.
Westminster built only 16 new shared ownership homes despite having the lowest number of new shared ownership homes in London. Despite an independent report saying Redbridge could achieve a 50% affordable housing target this we deliberately changed by the Tory leadership of the council to set only a 25% target.
Ken Livingstone said: “I am determined that the thousands of young people who cannot get on the property ladder will have the chance to own their own homes, unlike Boris Johnson whose policies would have the effect of concentrating housing in high priced and luxury development pricing housing out of the hands of ordinary Londoners.”
He warned that Boris Johnson’s plan to abandon the 50% target and allow developers to build less would mean big cuts in the number of new affordable homes to rent and to buy.
Ken Livingstone also announced new plans to increase the amount of larger affordable homes for families and to make shared ownership schemes more affordable especially in high value areas through rent free shared ownership and allowing purchasers to buy smaller shares.
He also committed to helping those on higher incomes who still cannot afford London house prices by promoting private sector and pension fund investment in new shared ownership schemes.
Overall the manifesto sets out an 18 point plan covering all aspects of housing in London:
- Maintain the policy that 50% of all new homes should be affordable.
- Where necessary use the Mayor’s powers to prevent councils letting down their local communities by not insisting that developers provide enough affordable housing.
- Deliver 50,000 new affordable homes over the next three years.
- Achieve the target of reducing the number of homeless households in temporary accommodation by half by 2012.
- Ensure a much larger proportion of new affordable homes for rent are family sized (three bedrooms or more) to cut overcrowding.
- Achieve further reductions in the number of empty homes already the lowest since the 1970s.
- Substantially increase the proportion of family-sized shared ownership homes to help young families stay in London and get on the property ladder.
- Work with councils and the government to ensure shared ownership schemes are genuinely affordable through rent free shared ownership and allowing purchasers to acquire smaller shares.
- Help those on higher incomes who still cannot afford London house prices by promoting private sector and pension fund investment in new shared ownership schemes.
- Support development of the Community Land Trust model, in particular through the proposed pilot in Tower Hamlets.
- Require the highest standards of design in new homes and maintain the London Plan requirement that all new homes meet the ‘Lifetime Homes’ standard and at least 10 per cent are wheelchair accessible.
- Provide a comprehensive Green Homes Advice Service to help Londoners cut their carbon emissions and save money.
- Require all new homes receiving public subsidy to meet level 3 of the Code for Sustainable Homes and provide incentives to go further and faster to ensure there is a firm platform for moving to zero carbon by 2016.
- Develop and introduce a new Decent Environment standard for all social housing addressing carbon emission, energy efficiency, water use, internal sound insulation and recycling.
- Work with all social landlords to provide more personalised and neighbourhood-level employment support services to reduce the level of worklessness in social housing.
- Give social housing tenants much greater choice and mobility through working with councils to develop a London wide choice and mobility scheme, including a new register of accessible housing across London for disabled people.
- Work with councils to ensure they use their powers to enforce higher management standards in the private rented sector comprehensively and encourage them to provide landlord accreditation and tenancy deposit schemes.
- Work with pension funds and institutional investors to encourage them to invest in additional private rented housing, including considering how the planning system could encourage this.
Ken Livingstone said: “Unlike Boris Johnson’s hotch-potch of gimmicks and impractical proposals which would reduce pressure for new cheaper homes to rent and buy, my manifesto is a
comprehensive plan for meeting the housing needs and preferences of all Londoners as effectively as possible.
"The most disastrous step would be to allow Boris Johnson to reverse the 50% policy that has led to so many more people getting the chance of a first home of their own.”