Healey won't challenge Johnson's housing strategy

2 Mar 10
Housing minister John Healey has withdrawn his opposition to London Mayor Boris Johnson’s plan to scrap affordable housing targets
By Neil Merrick

2 March 2010

Housing minister John Healey has backed away from blocking London Mayor Boris Johnson’s plan to scrap affordable housing targets.

In advice published on the same day as Johnson’s London housing strategy, Healey criticised the mayor for scrapping the target to make 50% of new homes in the capital affordable. But he said he recognised that Johnson had won a mandate from voters and had decided therefore not to use government powers to amend the strategy.

But the minister warned that the issue was likely to come to a head again later this year during consultations over the London Plan, the mayor’s comprehensive development strategy, which also includes housing targets.

Healey claimed that the scrapping of the 50% target, which was introduced by former mayor Ken Livingstone, would mean that only 13,200 homes are built for social renting each year – 2,755 fewer than if the target remained in place.

The strategy, published on February 27, will also make it harder for people to qualify for support through the government’s Homebuy programme, he added, by raising the household income limit from £60,000 to £74,000.

But Johnson has insisted that 50,000 extra affordable homes would be built before the 2012 Olympics. In addition, almost £40m had been spent by London boroughs on bringing 1,700 empty homes back into use.

London was the only English region to see a net increase in housing supply during 2008/09 (up 3%), said Johnson. ‘We are determined to make it easier for everyone to get the home they need,’ he added.

Belinda Porich, head of the National Housing Federation’s London branch, said: ‘We welcome the mayor's support for affordable housing and his public commitment to the need for high-quality housing in the capital.’

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