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19 January 2010

Boris under fire over housing

Minister's attack marks breakdown of relations with government

By James Macintyre

The fragile relationship between the Labour government and the Conservative Mayor of London reached a new low today when a minister wrote to Boris Johnson blasting his plans for housing.

In the letter, seen by Newstatesman.com, John Healey expresses “serious concerns” about the “scale of ambition set out in the plan and the commitment to using the Greater London Authority’s powers to the full to ensure London has the homes that Londoners need”. He says that Johnson’s plan “does not show how London will meet the numbers of affordable homes the city needs”.

The minister also implies Johnson has broken a promise, claiming that the mayor has “stretched” his election pledge on housing: “Your election promise to build 50,000 affordable homes over three years has now been stretched over four years.”
 
The letter reflects Labour strategists’ determination to treat Johnson’s London administration as a “dry run” for a national government led by David Cameron. The letter argues that Johnson will make it harder for many to part-buy their own home, saying his plan “proposes spreading the public money available to them more thinly, by making the same support available to those earning above £60,000 a year up to £74,000. Giving priority to higher-earning families will mean that fewer on ordinary incomes will be able to gain access to homeownership.”

The figures imply that a household earning more income than an MP would qualify for help under Johnson’s plan.

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