Saturday, 07 March 2015

Boris rejects affordable rent controls

Boris Johnson has rejected an independent recommendation to alter the London Plan to make it easier for councils to control affordable rent levels.

A government-appointed expert had asked for the deletion of two key sections of the document which detail the capital’s development strategy.

The paragraphs in question were intended to exclude London boroughs from setting their own caps for affordable rent and stop councils from setting rent targets in their planning frameworks.

However, this week the mayor said he was not accepting the request as such a move would likely lead to widespread confusion and delay in the delivery of new affordable housing.

Mr Johnson added that removing the sections would be inconsistent with national policy and undermine implementation of other mayoral planning and housing policy.

The inspector’s report, compiled to examine recent revisions by Mr Johnson, said: ‘Given the substantial influence he holds through his housing powers, I see no need for the mayor to include text that specifically directs boroughs how to meet their needs in accordance with the [national planning policy framework].’

It added that ‘the removal of a prohibition on rent caps does not provide any general endorsement of their acceptability [as] any local policies would have to be justified by an adequate evidence base’.

However, Mr Johnson responded that the inspector’s report gave ‘insufficient weight… to the effects on development of local planning authorities setting rent caps at levels which would not be supported by the level of subsidy available’.

Under the affordable homes programme, social landlords can charge rents at up to 80 per cent of market rent in return for development grant. The average rent level in London for homes built under the programme will be around 65 per cent, according to the London mayor.

Nine councils criticised the inclusion of the sections in a consultation response last summer, saying that the government’s new affordable rent product is too prescriptive and does not allow them to meet the needs of their area.

Readers' comments (10)

  • So many Londoners cannot afford their rent now that if you don't keep social rents low (not "affordable" which cannot be afforded by the minimum-waged) and if you don't regulate the private rental market, you will be out of office. Goodbye Boris.

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  • It appears like so many of his colleagues Boris prefers Nationalism over Localism - is the mask slipping!

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  • Colin Mcculloch

    Affordable to whom - footballers? End this nonsense and build some (lots) of housing at genuine social rent levels. The credit being frittered on Help to Buy could do a lot more good here.

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  • Daniel Sweeney

    'cause confusion and delay'. Is Boris practicing for his next post as the Fat Controller?
    Its Friday, therefore I'm flippant.

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  • James Rennie

    My colleagues who work in homelessness as outreach workers cannot afford to live in central london. No heartache they can commute in, except they have to start at 6am or go home at 2am to work with rough sleepers in a very very central London location . Affordable rent at a scheme devised for keyworkers is 50% of their salary, so they live in Barnet and get a night bus...plain stupid...irony being of course the clients they work with get to live centrally...

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  • Paul Jones; His his last term anyway! He's not arsed who he upsets!

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  • Colin McCulloch; They can't afford to build, this would bring down Georges housing bubble and raise interest rates which would create another big bang! He needs to give banks MORE of our money???

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  • BlokeWithAConscience

    Rent controls needed to reduce housing benefit, make rents affordable, end taxpayers subsidy to super profit landlords, allow first-time buyers to enter the housing market, bring house prices down to realistic levels.

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  • Spot on MBPB. The barrier is that the policy makers are the ones who and whose family are getting rich from the way things are now. Unless there is going to be a party that stands for the national interest of all the people instead of the selected interests of the few as an option at the next election then sadly no change in policy is likely. They really are all in it together, just as Honest Dave said.

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  • Joe Halewood

    Well done Boris!! Though perhaps when you see that the amount of Housing Benefit paid to a social tenant in affordable (sic) rent property is higher than paid in LHA to a private tenant.

    HCA figures today - the official figures of the social housing regulator reveal that the average amount paid in HB to a social landlord for the affordable rent model is £114.89 per week.

    Last week the official DWP figures were released which showed the average LHA paid to a private tenant was £105 pw!

    Yes just as I said as far back as September 2011 AR costs more in HB than the public purse pays the private landlord in LHA


    Of course your colleague the then Housing Minister and now Tory Chairman said this was not the case. Last year the NAO also said it would cost more. And today we have the official HCA data for 2012/13 which proves this beyond doubt.

    Though - the real people who need to rethink AR are social landlords. If AR is "affordable" and it is MORE than private tenants receive, then private rent levels must be even more affordable! And social landlords now have the highest public purse HB costs too - I wonder how the Tories will spin that? Though perhaps thats rhetorical given the spineless and inept response the SRS always does give to any Tory government attack on social housing such as in the bedroom tax and the benefit cap to date (direct payments and monthly payment of benefit still to come and further attack social housing as a model)

    So how long before IH run the headline social housing needs rent control anyone?

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