London wide Assembly Member Murad Qureshi AM has raised serious concerns about London Mayor Boris Johnson’s affordable housing scheme after the Mayor accepted that he may not hit his target to build 55,000 new affordable homes by March 2015.
Under questioning from Labour Assembly Member Tom Copley AM, at Mayor’s Question Time this week the Mayor refused confirm that the target date remained March 2015 even though his Deputy Mayor for Housing stated categorically less than a year ago that the target still stood. As of September this year the Mayor had only delivered 38,412 affordable homes leaving more than 16,000 to be built in order to meet March’s target.
After numerous attempts to dodge the question the Mayor accepted that he may not hit the target but refused to take action to prevent the failure stating: “If it slips by a few hundred in March or whatever deadline you arbitrarily choose to set then we’ll look at it then.”
When asked simply when the 55,000 would be completed the Mayor simply said “well I don’t know, whenever we’ve done them.”
Responding to the Mayor’s admission that he may miss his affordable house building target Murad Qureshi AM, Labour London wide Assembly Member, said:
“This is yet another pledge which Boris is going to fail to keep to Londoners. The Mayor’s attitude towards affordable is utterly outrageous given the scale of the housing crisis facing Westminster and the rest of the capital. Hundreds of thousands of people in Westminster are being priced out of buying by the eye-watering house prices in the capital. The fact Boris Johnson is on course to miss even this relatively modest target shows he just doesn’t seem to care about the impact that has on Londoners.
“It is now clear that Boris is set to miss his affordable housing pledge by March 2015. Yet instead of owning up to his failure, the Mayor is trying to pretend that the deadline was always December 2015. We urgently need to see action to put the scheme back on track to deliver the affordable housing Westminster and the rest of London so desperately needs.”
- A copy of the MQT webcast is available here. The exchange on affordable housing begins at 2:52.30.
- In November 2013, during a meeting of the London Assembly Housing Committee, Richard Blakeway (Deputy Mayor for Housing) confirmed on multiple occasions that the deadline for completing the 55,000 affordable homes was definitively 31 March 2015. He told the committee:
- “Ultimately, the completions will run until March 2015”,
- “It is a four-year programme which has had a very clear deadline of March 2015. “
- “Clearly, if the Committee wants to say, “You should move the deadline”, that is a matter for the Committee, but we will remain focused on March 2015.”
- The most stark exchange was:
Darren Johnson (Chair): Thank you and welcome, David [Lunts], for this next item on the Mayor’s affordable housing commitments. I am going to start off with the first question. Is the Mayor still on target to deliver 55,000 affordable homes by March 2015?
Richard Blakeway (Deputy Mayor for Housing, Land and Property): Yes.
- The transcript of the Housing Committee meeting is available here.
- Tom Copley is a Labour Londonwide Assembly Member.