As Tory housing minister Gavin Barwell lamely tweeted this morning that the government housing White Paper he is introducing today “is not a silver bullet”, Labour’s housing spokesman at the London Assembly was telling the Croydon Central MP to “get a grip” on the capital’s housing crisis.
“What we have here is evidence the government hasn’t got to grips with the realities of the housing crisis,” Tom Copley AM said, having seen some of the detail of the White Paper.
“More than anything we need an upsurge in truly affordable housing, but unless government is willing to lift the cap on councils’ borrowing, this will be difficult to achieve. While a first glance suggests this White Paper will probably have limited impact on London, the spectre of the forced sale of council homes in the capital to pay for Right-to-Buy discounts still hangs over us.
“The government has indicated that they have finally woken up to the need to look beyond home ownership, with the shift in focus on to Build-to-Rent. But this is to attract institutional investors – and whilst the promise of longer tenancies is welcome, its bearing will be miniscule unless it is extended to existing rental properties, where the vast majority of renters actually live.
“With the government insisting on clinging steadfastly to its definition of affordable rent as 80 per cent of market prices, any positive step it takes towards making life better for renters will be undermined. The government should instead follow Sadiq Khan’s lead by tying ‘intermediate rent’ to income, as the Mayor has done through his new London Living Rent.
“The ban on letting agents fees could significantly benefit renters, but it must be a blanket ban with no loopholes that greedy agents can exploit,” Copley said.
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