London Housing News: Affordability, Building And Where Do Police Live?

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 63 months ago
London Housing News: Affordability, Building And Where Do Police Live?

houses_030113There have been several stories about London housing this week. Excellent work has been done on them elsewhere, so rather than replicating other people, here's a round-up of what's been going on.

It turns out that half London's police officers live outside the capital. It may be that some of the 15,319 (of 30, 462 total) choose to live in the home counties but Jenny Jones, Green London Assembly Member, also points the finger at what she called the "dysfunctional housing market". She continued:

It isn't particularly healthy for what is now the majority of our police force to live outside the place they're policing. I think you can expect them to have some links to London itself and to understand what's happening.

Officers have a starting salary, including London weighting, of around £28k pa. Experienced officers can get a housing allowance of around £5-6k pa and for officers who live outside London, the Metropolitan police offers a rail concession scheme to offset the costs of commuting (as we found earlier in the year, cheaper property outside London is often cancelled out by pricey season tickets). Another example, like housing benefit (mainly claimed by working people), of the taxpayer subsidising London's ridiculous property market? Dave Hill has some more thoughts on the subject.

In response to the police news, Boris Johnson repeated his usual response that he's investing to build more homes. But it's not enough. It's estimated that London needs 800,000 new homes by 2021. Steve Bullock, Lewisham mayor and housing lead for London Councils, has written a plea to government to remove a cap on borrowing that would allow councils to borrow against existing housing stock and build more. He also backs the idea of a tax to stop developers sitting on undeveloped land – land banking. It's thought that there are 124,000 homes with planning permission that haven't been started yet.

Also looking at tax, the Smith Institute think tank has made the case for a property speculation tax, aimed at overseas investors.

London's other Green Assembly Member, Darren Johnson, has noticed the Mayor's building programme is currently running short of the larger family homes he pledged to build. Boris Johnson has promised that 36% of the 'affordable rent' homes built using City Hall money will have three or more bedrooms, to help ease the capital's overcrowding problem. In the five months April-August 2013, 26% of homes completed were family sized. There's still some way to go this year, but it's one to keep an eye on.

If we're talking affordability, Dave Hill has also been looking at an LSE report on London's prosperity, poverty and inequality. It finds that income reductions between 2007 and 2010 hit poorer Londoners far more than anywhere else in the country and that poverty rates in outer London are rising. Interestingly, while poverty rates in inner London fell, the LSE thinks that's not necessarily because of people moving out, but because wealthier people are moving in, which affects the overall balance of the area.

Photo by LunaticDesire from the Londonist Flickr pool

Last Updated 03 October 2013