To solve our escalating housing crisis, London needs greater autonomy.
London’s housing crisis is not caused by a lack of new housing. Plenty of new homes are being built, as anyone who travels round town a bit can see. The trouble is, almost all of them are “luxury apartments”, while what we most need is new council homes.
People who do ordinary jobs increasingly can’t afford to live in town, and people who were born and brought up in London just can’t pay local rents. The problem isn’t that new people are moving in. That brings in new faces and new income, and it’s often good for an area – so long as existing residents don’t get pushed out.
To ensure that, what we need is council homes, and lots of them. “Affordable homes” at 80% of market rents are no answer, as they just aren’t really affordable for most people. Nobody should have to pay more than a third of their income on rent, and homes should be available that ordinary Londoners can genuinely afford in all parts of the city.
Part of the problem here is the arbitrary restrictions that UK government has imposed on boroughs building council homes. Another is forty years of austerity that’s left councils permanently strapped for cash. While we’re hemmed in by these restraints, there’s a limit to what London boroughs and the GLA can do. Since 1980, London boroughs have sold off over 300,000 council homes, but only 62,000-odd have been built to replace them. London needs to break free of the restriction that UK governments have imposed on us. We need the freedom to be able to build the homes that London deperately needs. Without that freedom, our housing crisis will just carry on growing.