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  1. Politics
3 June 2015

Housing in London faces a crisis point: only the right Mayor of London can fix it

Housing is one of the biggest challenges we face in London. I'm backing Tessa Jowell as the politician who can do something about it.

By Alan Strickland

Of all of the challenges we face as councillors in London, housing is probably the most difficult. Housing brings more residents to my surgery than any other issue – many struggling to get a home that they can afford or let down by their private landlord. These individual cases teach you the hard way what a devastating effect poor quality housing can have on a family and how inseparable housing is from the wider lives of Londoners.
Today, London is a city where people of many incomes, ages and background are quietly facing their own homes crisis. Demand for homes has outstripped weak supply for too long, so that it is not just the poorest Londoners who are being left behind. I’ve met families in work, whose salaries barely cover the rent, and young workers earning a good wage who have resigned themselves to never owning a home and have asked for help in moving out of London.
As the homes crisis intensifies, the government looks set to make life much more difficult for the residents I represent. Research done recently for Haringey, Camden, Islington and Enfield Councils shows just how damaging the Government’s new right-to-buy extension will be for Londoners. Analysis by Liverpool Economics shows that 3,500 council homes will be lost across these boroughs in the first five years alone, because of the new policy to force councils to sell off our most expensive homes. If you apply that to the rest of inner London, we’re looking at over 16,000 council homes lost in the centre of the city alone in the next parliament. At a time when there is immense pressure on
council homes, this policy will deny thousands of families the affordable housing they badly need. Add to this the extension of Right to Buy to housing association tenants, which will see thousands of
homes sold across London, and it’s clear that the stock of genuinely affordable homes in our communities will be severely depleted.
We cannot allow London to be split into two cities – divided between those who can afford the luxury of a home and the many who are permanently priced out. We need to tackle this crisis head-on.
What we need is strong, London-wide leadership on housing. Homes put front and centre. A powerful mechanism in place to make new homes a reality. Action on homes day in, day out.

 That’s why I’ve been so struck by Tessa Jowell’s campaign. Tessa has made homes her top priority as a candidate and set out last week that major action would begin on day one. As a cabinet member leading on housing in a London borough, I know how urgently we need this action.
Tessa’s plan for a powerful new agency – Homes for Londoners – will bring about a step change in the number of homes. It will start by building homes on public land, with Tessa being clear that she intends to lead from the front. This is vital – as politicians we cannot lecture the private sector on homes unless we’re clearly demonstrating leadership ourselves.
Tessa’s vision of building One London is a powerful and compelling call to action for our city. Let’s see the homes and new developments that Londoners need. And let’s have a Mayor who can truly make this vision a reality.

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