Londoners want politicians who deliver for them (Picture: EPA)
I grew up on a council estate in south London so I know the vital role council housing plays in providing security for families.
To have a place to live should be a basic right for every Londoner.
Yet a hands-off policy from Whitehall over decades and under-delivery by the previous mayor have sent housing costs spiralling out of the reach of Londoners on ordinary incomes.
In the last 20 years, the cost to buy an average property in London has risen from just under seven times average earnings to nearly 14 times average earnings.
Meanwhile, the number of Londoners living in the under-regulated private rented sector has grown, with many enduring soaring rents, making it harder to save for a deposit.
It’s clear Londoners want politicians who deliver, and nowhere is this more important than housing.
Turning around a housing crisis that’s been decades in the making will take time, but we’re taking decisive steps in the right direction in the capital.
Working with boroughs and housing associations, City Hall funded a record-breaking 18,722 genuinely affordable homes in the last year.
This isn’t just a new record since housing investment powers were devolved to London in 2012, it’s the highest since at least 2003.
The decisive action we have taken in London has led to a resurgence of housebuilding, with council housing being built at a rate not seen since the 1970s. In March this year, we surpassed my target to get building 10,000 new council homes.
This is all a testament to the priority we have given to housing and our determination to turn the page on the neglect shown by a generation of national politicians.
This attitude can still be seen in the prevarication of ministers, who prefer to tinker with planning rules and bow to political pressure than deliver the housing our country so desperately needs.
Boris Johnson’s Government is trying to make up for building fewer homes by branding ever more expensive residences as ‘affordable’, tying their definition of affordability to market levels.
This dodgy definition, based on the market rather than the needs of individuals, leaves vulnerable people in our society with nowhere suitable to live.
When I talk about genuinely affordable homes, I mean it. That’s why I’ve ripped up the Government’s definition of affordable housing as those houses which are priced at 80% of market rents.
Instead, I’m focusing on homes that are within the reach of Londoners on low and middle incomes.
Turning around a housing crisis that’s been decades in the making will take time, but we’re taking decisive steps in the right direction in the capital
Almost 10,000 of the properties we funded last year were at the most affordable social rent levels, with most of the remainder available for key workers and others on a London Living Rent or shared ownership basis.
These aren’t just numbers on a spreadsheet, they represent lives that are being changed – thousands more families moving out of temporary accommodation, getting on the housing ladder, or putting down roots in their communities.
Last year, this meant that 10,000 families got the keys to their newly completed homes across the city.
That’s the highest level of completions since I was elected and more than double the record low of 4,881 homes completed in the last year of the previous mayoralty in 2015/16.
Meeting some of the Londoners who’ve moved into the new affordable homes we’ve funded is always one of the most rewarding parts of my job.
I’ve met with families moving into brand new council homes who’ve been on the housing waiting list for nearly 10 years, and whose children will now have their own room for the first time, rather than being stuck in overcrowded temporary accommodation.
What we have achieved so far on affordable housing in London demonstrates that where there’s the political will, it’s possible to make real progress, even with as daunting a challenge as London’s housing crisis.
However, I’m under no illusions that there’s still a long way to go.
The housing crisis is still biting hard for too many Londoners, and the double impact of Brexit and the aftereffects of the pandemic is forcing up the cost of building materials and causing workforce shortages, threatening our ability to build more homes.
Unfortunately, I have not seen any evidence to suggest that the Government is even close to getting to grips with these serious challenges.
As mayor, I will continue to put pressure on ministers to play their part as we continue with our ambitious plans from City Hall.
Tackling the housing crisis is a huge challenge, but it’s one I’m proud to be at the forefront of, here in London.
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