Mayor of London calls for four times more funding for housing

Sadiq Khan has reiterated calls for stamp duty receipts to be devolved to London to fund “much-needed affordable homes”.

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The Mayor of London has come out to challenge the government over stamp duty devolution.

Khan currently receives around £0.7bn a year from national Government to invest in affordable housing.

City Hall calculations show he would need four times that – around £2.7bn a year – to build the social rented and other genuinely affordable homes that Londoners need.

The capital’s rising housing costs now generate £3.4bn in stamp duty receipts, and Sadiq believes this should be devolved to City Hall, alongside other taxes, so that these receipts can be reinvested into building genuinely affordable housing.

A major report last year from the London Finance Commission showed that London raises far less of its own funding than similar cities around the world, and recommended that property taxes be devolved to London so that it could invest in new homes and infrastructure.

New data released by City Hall shows that home ownership rates among younger Londoners have fallen dramatically since the 1990s, and a lack of social housing means only one-fifth of London households now live in social homes.

The 2018 ‘Housing in London’ report shows how Right to Buy has seen more than 300,000 homes sold by councils in London since it was introduced in 1980, with just one in five having been replaced.

As a result, social housing has gone from being the capital’s largest housing tenure in the 1980s to the lowest in 2017, accounting for just 21% of London’s households.

It has also meant the numbers of private rented households with children have more than doubled in a decade, from 140,000 in 2007 to 320,000 in 2017.

London’s overall home ownership rate has also fallen in recent decades – but the data shows stark differences in the trends for different age groups. In 1990, around half of London households headed by a 25-34 year old owned their own home, with around half of the households headed by someone over 65 owning too.

But in less than 30 years this story has changed dramatically – the proportion of young people owning their own home has fallen to around a quarter, whilst amongst the over-65s the opposite has been the case, with the proportion having risen to almost three-quarters.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “London’s housing landscape has worsened dramatically over the past 30 years, and we now risk a whole generation of Londoners being blocked from enjoying the benefits of a good quality, genuinely affordable home.

“This data shows that accessing social housing or homeownership is now a pipe-dream for too many. London’s rocketing house prices mean we are contributing billions of pounds in stamp duty to the Treasury, when we could be using it to build new social rented and other genuinely affordable homes.

“Control of stamp duty has been devolved to Scotland and Wales and it’s vital that Ministers devolve it to London too, which has a population larger than Scotland and Wales combined.

“City Hall are doing everything we can to ensure new genuinely affordable homes get built, including our programme dedicated to helping councils build more housing. But the housing crisis facing our city, and in particular young Londoners, is immense.

“The Government must rise to the scale of the challenge and provide significantly more powers and funding so we can build the homes that Londoners so desperately need.”

The data also highlights how the capital is lagging behind major international cities whose housing growth has outstripped their population growth over the last five years, including Singapore, Tokyo, and Paris.

In contrast, London’s population grew 1.4% a year over the last five years, but its housing growth rate was only 0.8% a year. All of these other cities have far greater control over their tax revenues than London.

Labour’s London Assembly Spokesperson for Housing, Tom Copley AM, said compared to other major world cities, London government is infantalised by national government, with almost no tax raising powers available to the Mayor or boroughs.

“Londoners have long been let down by a government unwilling to deliver anything more than warm words, and failing abysmally to support councils in getting building again.

“It’s time politicians in Westminster got out of the way and gave London the financial powers we need to tackle our housing crisis.

“We’ve not built enough homes in London since governments of the past decided that it wasn’t the job of the state to provide housing.

“We’ve seen the cost of that choice in rising homelessness, overcrowding and poverty.

“London’s councils and London’s Mayor are already trying to change that, but could do so much more given the necessary powers and funding.

“Devolving stamp duty is a start, but we can go further still.

“Devolving the full suite of property taxes to the capital – including full control over business rates and the power to trial a land value tax – would put us in the best possible place to deliver the maximum level of genuinely affordable homes.”

Terrie Alafat CBE, Chief Executive of Chartered Institute of Housing said: “This report makes it clear that young people are paying the price for our national failure to build the genuinely affordable homes we so desperately need, particularly in London.

“We simply cannot go on with the system we have or the implications for future generations will be every bit as significant as the impact of Brexit.

“For many people on lower incomes, social rent is the only truly affordable option – but as we can see from this report, thousands of people are being denied access because of the increasing shortage of social housing.

“It is vital that the government thinks creatively about how to shift investment so that we can build more of the right homes, in the right places, at the right places.”

 

Richard Brown, Research Director at Centre for London said: “As these figures show, the inability of young Londoners to find affordable housing is becoming an increasingly urgent challenge, if London is to be a fair and prosperous city.

“London boroughs could play a major role delivering the housing the capital needs. But London has one hand tied behind its back. To support and encourage councils to deliver at scale, Government should allow councils to borrow to build and to mix funding more flexibly.

“The Mayor also has very limited powers over taxation, compared to his counterparts in other capital cities. The Government should also devolve stamp duty alongside other property taxes to enable reform, and investment in housing and other infrastructure.

“The case for greater fiscal devolution has been strengthened in recent years by the transfer of powers over property and income tax powers to the governments of Scotland and Wales. Now is the time for London to get a deal of its own.”

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