What is Boris Johnson talking about? London needs new homes, not ‘assets’

Instead of addressing the housing crisis, the capital’s Mayor actually celebrates it


Like crime in a multi-storey car park, London Mayor Boris Johnson’s analysis of what is wrong with London’s housing market is, as the award-winning joke has it, wrong on so many levels. Foreign investors, mainly from the Far East, are currently buying around 70 per cent of all newly-built homes in inner London, for record prices. Boris’s exoneration of them of all blame for the massive increases in the prices of those homes is a bit like failing to relate guns with gun-related crime.

He talks of “the anger of professional people who cannot live in districts where their parents grew up, and who cannot see how their kids will ever be able to afford to buy in London”. But instead of addressing this crisis he actually celebrates it. “London is now globally recognised as such a desirable city that its property is treated effectively as another asset class,” the Mayor wrote this week. “A safe investment in a turbulent world”. And yes, this has “buoyed property values”, but hey, that’s a small price to pay for London’s standing in the world. And besides, “we can build hundreds of thousands of homes for rent, for affordable rent, for market sale and for part-buy-part-rent”.

Oh, we can, can we? Well in that case, Mr Mayor, why have we not done so yet? And why would anyone build affordable homes for Londoners when they can make so much more money building over-priced ones for citizens of distant shores?

I haven’t noticed Boris criticising developers for offering their latest inner London schemes in the Far East before they go on sale to Londoners. And I don’t recall him protesting when flats in two yet unbuilt tower blocks in Stratford went on sale in Singapore with the comforting assurance of “NO SOCIAL HOUSING”.

The solution to the housing crisis is, as we all agree, to build more. But most of the 30,000-odd homes currently in the inner London pipeline will be priced at least twice as high as those in areas nearby, and marketed in faraway lands of which we know little.

The inevitable result will be for all prices in those adjacent areas to quickly rise to match the new. Their owners will be sorely tempted to sell up, cash in and move out. The owners’ children will have a big problem if they want to stay in London.

While standing up for “overseas demand” because it is “critical to the economics of many of the developments”, Boris ignores the fact that these developments are largely the work of foreign investors, on behalf of foreign investors. Even those buyers who will eventually let out their flats will demand rents well above what locals can pay.

So come on, Boris. You are the Mayor of London. The people who elected you need to live not in an “asset class” but in a house. And if you continue to stick your head in the sands of denial, you deserve to have your arse kicked.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Polish minister Rafal Trazaskowski (second from right)  

Poland is open to dialogue but EU benefits restrictions are illegal and unfair

Rafal Trzaskowski
The report will embarrass the Home Secretary, Theresa May  

Surprise, surprise: tens of thousands of illegal immigrants have 'dropped off' the Home Office’s radar

Nigel Farage
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers