Ken's "Affordable" Housing Con

Submitted by Janine on Tue, 08/22/2006 - 19:48

This summer, the Mayor of London gets new power over housing and planning in the capital. He says he will use these powers "mainly to ensure more affordable homes are built for Londoners."

There was council housing, then there was social housing, now there is affordable housing. But affordable to whom?

The government's definition of affordable housing is appropriately long-winded and non-specific, little help to those who need affordable housing buts lots of help to those who want to sell to the well-off and remain within the regulations.

For several years, there has been a rule that any new development in London should have a certain proportion of affordable homes (a quarter, I think). Sound good? Doesn't sound so good when you reverse it and say that any new development in London can have up to three-quarters unaffordable housing. To make matters worse, there is nothing to stop the 'affordable' proportion of homes being hutches stuck in the least attractive part of the site. And anyway, developers can - and do - get out of the requirement by paying a small (to them) fine.

In the latest issue of Ken's freesheet, 'The Londoner', he tells us his truly-extraordinary definition of affordable homes: "my London Plan set a target that half of London's new homes shoujld be affordable to people earning under £50,000 a year". I had to read that sentence twice and count the zeros. Yes, £50,000 a year.

In 2002/03 (the most recent year I could find in a quick search of the web), Londoners' average income was £34,000 for men and £21,500 for women. That will, of course, be grossly distorted by London being the favoured domicile of the super-mega-rich. The vast majority of Londoners earn less than £50, 000, but will have to compete with each other for just half the new housing. The over-fifties (grand, that is) can take their leisurely pick of the rest.

Little hope for the so-called 'key workers'. Basic salaries are £18,870 for a nurse, £19,776 for a social worker, £22,992 for a police officer and £23,835 for a teacher. Inner London weightings and related salary supplements range from £2,751 for a social worker to £6,165 for a police officer. Even less hope for cleaners, shop workers etc.

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