With this week’s welter of housing announcements out of London, evidence has emerged of the boroughs being sharply divided over Sadiq Khan’s rent policy.
Campaigners have seized on data released under FoI they say shows that, for new council homes, the Mayor has agreed higher rents than the capital’s Council tenants have ever paid before – and in five boroughs yet higher unspecified rents have been agreed.
Responding to the claim, the Mayor’s Office said Khan specifically defined London Affordable Rent to have rent caps based on social rent levels – enabling money from national Affordable Rent programme to be spent on social rent level housing in the capita.
But seven other Boroughs seem to have have defied the Mayor’s policies.
With government funding, Khan has launched a £1bn programme ‘Building Council Homes for Londoners’, for new council-built homes in London – over 14,000 homes are to be built with the first round of funding.
The snag campaigners have caught onto has the Mayor promoting his London Affordable Rent (LAR – or ‘Mayor’s Rent’) which is £50 pw higher than standard council rents.
“Compared to an average London Council rent of £105.87 pw, the current London Affordable Rent rates applied to London’s stock mix produce an average of £158.85 pw.
So the average uplift is +£52.98 weekly, or +50.0%, all plus service charges,” says Paul Burnham, Secretary, Haringey Defend Council Housing.
The figures show:
- Bedsit £150.03 instead of £82.93 (£67.10 more, +80.9%) London Stock 18,643
- One-bed £150.03 instead of £92.61 (£57.42 more, +62.0%) London Stock 118,090
- Two-bed £158.84 instead of £105.29 (£53.55 more, +50.9%) London Stock 137,511
- Three-bed £167.67 instead of £120.49 (£47.18 more, +39.0%) London Stock 100,012
- Four-bed £176.49 instead of £138.76 (£37.73 more, +27.2%) London Stock 14,656
- Five-bed £185.31 instead of £153.03 (£32.28 more, +21.1%) London Stock 1,926
- Six or more bedrooms £194.13 instead of £165.70 (£28.43 more, +17.2%) London Stock 447
“The Mayor says that London Affordable Rent is social rent, but seven London boroughs disagree,” said Burnham.
According to Burnham’s interpretation that’s Haringey, Kensington and Chelsea, Camden, Hackney, Greenwich, Southwark, and Waltham Forest.
The City of London, which owns council housing stock mainly in Inner London but outside the Square Mile, makes the list too.
“It gets worse, the Mayor has agreed that six boroughs can set rents for 1,166 homes at new, higher levels above what we were told were to be the Caps for Mayor’s Rent, said Burnham.
“We do not know why the Mayor has agreed this, and whether or not these rents are supposed to be Affordable of Intermediate – we have sent an urgent message to the GLA to find out,” he said.
The five even higher-rent boroughs are said to be Sutton (16 homes), Tower Hamlets (375), Brent (124), Barking and Dagenham (156) and Harrow (273).
Though named in the initial campaign claim, Hammersmith & Fulham said it had still to respond to the FoI.
GLA reports recognise higher social and affordable rents as a leading cause of poverty for lower income households with children, and people with low and uncertain incomes.
“But by his actions the Mayor is undermining Council Social Rent which is the gold standard of rental affordability.
“Decisions about rent policy are made by people who do not have any idea of the household expenses and family budgets of working class people,” Burnham said.
A spokesperson for the Mayor’s office said the Mayor is “very pleased” by the response to his Building Council Homes for Londoners programme, which will see councils build more than 11,000 homes at social rent levels.
“The national Government allows affordable rent to be up to 80% of market rents – a level the Mayor does not consider to be genuinely affordable to Londoners on low incomes in most parts of the capital.
“He specifically defined London Affordable Rent to have rent caps based on social rent levels, enabling money from national Affordable Rent programme to be spent on social rent level housing in the capital,” the spokesperson said.
Supporting its argument, the Mayor’s office released additional information showing:
- Building Council Homes for Londoners allows all boroughs to set rent levels for the c.11,000 referred to above at or below London Affordable Rent caps, which includes social rents
- London Affordable Rent is based on 2016 formula social rents and is only offered on new lets
- Current average council rents on new lets are higher than current average council rents which include rents set historically
GLA grant allocation by housing tenure
LAR – ‘Mayor’s Rent’, London Affordable Rent ‘at benchmark’.
SR – Social Rent.
LAR/SR homes – rented homes not yet allocated by tenure.
LLR – London Living Rent.
LSO – London Shared Ownership.
LLR/SO – intermediate homes not yet allocated by tenure.
Boroughs with all social/affordable rent as London Affordable Rent
Barnet £8,700,000. Total 87. LAR 87.
Lewisham £37,700,000 Total 384. LAR 384.
Sutton £6,500,000 Total: 81. LAR 65, LAR homes (above benchmark rent) 16.
Redbridge (funding from Right to Buy receipts) Total 400. LAR 400.
Tower Hamlets £13,000,000 Total: 675. LAR 300, LAR homes (above benchmark rent) 375.
Croydon £61,288,000 Total: 888. LAR 141, LAR/SR homes 326, LLR/SO homes 421.
Brent £65,610,000 Total 817. LAR 572, LSO 121, LAR homes (above benchmark rent) 124.
Ealing £99,352,000 Total 1,138. LAR 934, LLR 71, LSO 133.
Hounslow £63,252,000 Total 741. LAR 657, LSO 84.
Barking & Dagenham £25,338,000 Total: 565. LAR 228, LSO 156, LAR homes (above benchmark rent) 181.
Havering £24,046,000 Total: 282. LAR 215, LSO 67.
Wandsworth £12,452,000 Total: 174. LAR 22, Intermediate home ownership 2, 83 LAR/SR homes, LLR/SO homes 67.
Hammersmith & Fulham £15,308,000 Total: 251. LAR 115, LSO 13, LAR homes (above benchmark rent) 123.
Harrow £32,144,000 Total: 618. LAR homes (above benchmark rent) 273, LAR/SR homes 307, LLR/SO homes 38.
Newham £107,476,000 Total: 1,123. SR 1,056 [we think that all of these rented homes are in fact LAR], LSO 67.
Boroughs with all social/affordable rent as Social Rent
Camden £30,800,000 Total: 308. SR 308.
Greenwich £32,600,000 Total: 588. SR 588.
Kensington and Chelsea £33,600,000. Total: 336. SR 336.
Hackney £45,556,000 Total 949. SR: 502, LSO 447.
Haringey £62,858,000 Total: 848. SR 567, LLR 232, LSO 49.
Waltham Forest £25,518,000. Total 293. SR 232, LSO 61.
City of London £14,880,000. Total 156. SR 146, LSO 10.
Southwark £89,494,138 Total: 926. SR 891, LSO 35.
Boroughs with both Social Rent and London Affordable Rent
Enfield £18,108,000 Total: 571. LAR 392, SR 44, LSO 61, LAR homes (above benchmark rent) 74.
Islington £24,200,000 Total: 465. LAR 407, SR 58.
Hillingdon £11,678,000 Total: 347. LAR 40, SR 86, LLR 20, LSO 201.
Kingston £67,844,000 Total: 713. LAR 75, SR 590, LSO 48.