Boris Johnson left us a terrible housing crisis legacy in London, and the Government must fix his mess

Boris left zero social homes funded for the year that Sadiq Khan came into office

Ellie Reeves
Saturday 28 October 2017 14:08 BST
Millions of people have been priced out of the market, or have been exploited by rogue landlords
Millions of people have been priced out of the market, or have been exploited by rogue landlords (Getty)

As a Member of Parliament in London, I see the shocking impact of Britain’s housing crisis in my constituency every day. However, the housing crisis is a national one – it is one of the biggest causes of unfairness and inequality in our country today.

Families living in overcrowded conditions face decades on waiting lists for social housing. Young professionals are living with their parents into their thirties because they can’t afford the cost of a rental deposit. Young families stand no chance of buying a home of their own. And at the sharpest edge, the lack of housing is causing poverty, health problems, homelessness and rough sleeping.

The cause of this crisis is clear – Britain is simply not investing enough to build the number of new homes we need every year. Seven years of Tory under-investment has left millions of people either priced out of the market or exploited by rogue landlords.

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Shocking new figures published today by London Mayor Sadiq Khan show that we are building less than half the number of homes we need to fix the issue in London alone.

When the Tory Government came to power in 2010 they slashed funding on affordable and social housing across Britain, dramatically exacerbating the problem. In London, they cut funding from around £1.75bn in 2010 to just £500m today.

Boris Johnson made things even worse as Mayor. He stopped building new social housing altogether, reducing the number of social homes he funded from 1,687 in 2012 to just 336 in his final year in office. Shamefully, he left zero social homes funded for the year that Sadiq Khan came into office.

In fact, Johnson prioritised building multi-million pound penthouses that only the very wealthiest could afford and left ordinary Londoners as an afterthought. Only 13 per cent of homes given permission in his final year in office were affordable and rough sleeping doubled on his watch.

Theresa May herself acknowledges it is a disaster – especially for young people – that house prices are outstripping earnings at a time when not enough new homes are being built. The Government has made a lot of noise to show they are “listening” to the public’s desperate need for real action but in reality they are barely tinkering around the edges.

The progress made by our current Mayor in London shows what can be achieved when those in office have a genuine desire for change.

He is funding homes at social rent once again: the number of affordable homes is up from 13 per cent to 38 per cent in the first six months of this year. But he can’t fix a national problem on his own.

A Labour Government will get Britain investing in house-building once again. We will invest to build more than a million new homes over five years – with at least half a million of these being council homes. We will increase access to affordable home ownership and ensure supported homes for vulnerable and older people remain open. In London, we would return funding back to 2010 levels as a starting point.

But Londoners need action now. So today I set a challenge to the Prime Minister.

Theresa May, if you mean what you say on housing, you must use the Budget next month to prove it by massively increasing investment in affordable housing back to the levels you inherited, including in the capital.

It’s time to show whose side you are on. I stand with the millions of people in London and beyond who are suffering because of the failures of this Government.

Ellie Reeves is Labour MP for Lewisham West and Penge

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