Election Campaign Claims: Affordable Housing

Londonist takes a look at what the campaigns are saying about themselves and each other.

One thing we’ll hear a lot about over the next few months is affordable housing targets, and whether Boris has kept his promises. This is partly because the final totals for Boris’s tenure won’t be released until after the election and partly because comparisons between the current and former Mayors are bloody difficult to make, offering scope for campaigns to cherrypick their figures.

The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) tallies statistics for affordable housing starts and completions, but because it was founded in 2008 it’s not much help on Ken’s record. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has data on all housing going back to 1998-99 but breaks it down by local authority, housing association and private enterprise – and while some of that private enterprise housing will clearly be classed as affordable, the DCLG doesn’t provide figures for London. They do have some nice charts about affordable housing supply in London but numbers are approximate.

Then there’s a difference between how the HCA and DCLG calculate their figures. We worked out that for 2009-2010, the DCLG’s figures show 13,855 affordable homes built in London (frustratingly, you usually have to hope they provide a handy stat about London in their key points and work back) while the HCA figures for that period are 15,114 starts and 12,772 completions.

So what do we know?

  • Well, using the DCLG’s approximate charty figures we know that there were around 37,000 additional affordable homes built during Ken’s first term and around 50,000 during his second.
  • Boris Johnson’s manifesto (PDF) promised 50,000 affordable homes by 2011. He’s since revised that goal to be achieved by the end of his Mayoral term.
  • Using figures from the HCA and February 2010′s London Housing Strategy (PDF, p91), as of September 2011 40,602 affordable homes had been built under Boris Johnson. This is where the main scrap will come: will the remaining 10,000 be finished in time for him to claim he’s fulfilled his promise?

What don’t we know?

  • How many homes are currently being built. 16,331 homes were started between April 2010-March 2011, some of which probably weren’t finished in time to be counted as part of the 40,602. Since there were only a pathetic 56 starts April-September 2011, if Boris has any hope of hitting the 50,000 target he must be hoping that either most of those 16,331 are taking a long time to finish or that a bunch of new homes sprang up since the latest stats and are being worked on like the clappers.
  • How many of the affordable homes built under Boris were legacies from Ken’s time in office. Unless someone fancies going through each planning application for dates and funding (and we’re certainly not doing it) it’s probably easiest to acknowledge there would have been some crossover, and deal with it like adults.

Seen a campaign claim you want us to look into? Email us at tips@londonist.com. Photo by Stephen*Iliffe from the Londonist Flickr pool.

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