There are less than 100 days until the next London mayor is voted into office. The leading candidates, Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan, have both put housing as their main priority. Khan’s campaign website describes this mayoral election as a “referendum on housing”, stating that too many people are spending too much on rent and are unable to buy their own homes. Goldsmith recently stated on Andrew Marr’s show that “too many people in London now feel like they’re been priced out of their own city” and that housing “isn’t just a social crisis, it’s a political and economic crisis that must define the next mayor and probably the one after that”.
Londoners agree. The latest YouGov research (from Jan 7th) reveals that housing is seen as the top priority for the Mayor, with 61% of Londoners choosing the issue compared to 46% for transport and 35% for policing. Conservative voters also say housing should be the Mayor’s top priority, although by a smaller margin (54% to 51% for transport and 47% for policing).
The same poll puts Labour’s Sadiq Khan ahead, predicting 45% of the vote going his way, 35% going to Zac Goldsmith, with the UKIP, Liberal Democrat and Green parties’ candidates sharing the rest. Whichever candidate becomes our city’s mayor, we can be sure to expect changes to housing policy in London.
Both frontrunners had the opportunity to add their voices to the debate surrounding the Housing Bill that went through Parliament earlier this month, through which the Government extended the right-to-buy to housing association tenants, coupled with a pledge to replace every social home bought with an affordable one. Some housing association residents had the opportunity to buy their homes beginning 25th Jan and the full scheme will be rolled out later this year to include all housing associations in England. During the debate Khan and Goldsmith both introduced amendments; Khan wants money from the sale of properties in London to be ring-fenced and spent in capital, while Goldsmith pledged a two for one deal, where two affordable homes are built for every one housing association property sold; a policy now adopted by the government.
How exactly do the candidates plan to deliver more affordable housing for London?
Sadiq Khan’s Housing Plans
- set up a new team at City hall to fast-track the building of affordable homes
- add a 50% affordable housing target for new developments
- give ‘first dibs’ to first-time buyers and local tenants and stop homes being sold in advance to foreign investors
- ensure a minimum of 80,000 new homes a year
- build on land owned by public bodies such as TfL
- add rent controls that limit rent to a third of the average local income, not market rates
- establish a London-wide not-for-profit lettings agency to promote longer-term tenancies
- setup landlord licensing schemes to name and shame bad landlords and promote good ones
Zac Goldsmith’s Housing Plans
- double home building to 50,000 a year by 2020
- give Londoners the first chance to buy new homes
- ensure a significant portion are for rent and not for sale
- build two new affordable homes for every one high-value council home sold under the government’s extended “Right to Buy” programme
The Generation Rent website VoteHomes2016, which uses the tagline London is a ’mare for renters. London needs a Mayor for renters, have put together a visual guide to all 6 candidates’ housing policy, which is worth a look.
So what effect will the new Mayor have on housing in London? A survey run by the Financial Times earlier this month asking 88 economists to give their views on the impact of the current government’s housing initiatives suggested they will fail to have any real impact in 2016, with UK property prices expected to keep climbing. None of the 88 suggested a fall in prices, with 54 suggesting the government’s current policies would have little impact or would increase demand. If they’re right we can expect house prices to continue rising throughout 2016. Many Londoners will be hoping the new Mayor’s policies can bring about positive change, providing much needed housing across the full spectrum, including much more affordable housing both to buy and rent.
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