40,000 new social rented homes a year needed in London, say London Tenants

Published on July 8, 2018

Published on July 8, 2018

London Tenants Federation (LTF) are calling for 40,000 new social rented homes to be built each year in London for the next ten years to address the city’s housing crisis.

In their statement, A positive future for social housing in London, published ahead of the Social Housing Green Paper, LTF call for the government to make social housing central to a radical shift in housing policy.

Since 2005 average delivery rates for social rented housing in London have been below a tenth of what is needed. LTF, an alliance of democratic tenants and residents’ organisations in the capital, are calling on the government to provide sufficient grant funding, ringfenced for social housing, to address this shortfall within the next ten years.

“Across all tenures, London has consistently failed to build enough homes but social housing has taken the biggest hit,” said Pat Turnbull of LTF. “78% of the backlog of unmet need is for social housing, compared to 20% for market housing and 2% for intermediate products like shared ownership.”

The London Mayor’s 2017 Strategic Housing Market Assessment showed that 40,753 social-rented homes would need to be built annually if London were to meet both projected need and the backlog of unmet need.

“Successive governments have thrown money at home ownership schemes hoping these will solve the housing crisis but these clearly are not working,” said Martin Dumont, a co-operative tenant from east London. “It’s said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results – the government needs to do something different this time, providing subsidy where it is genuinely needed.”

LTF’s statement sets out four key priorities for the upcoming Social Housing Green Paper to address: health and safety; delivery of new homes for social rent; ending stigmatisation of social housing and its tenants; and support for democratic tenants and residents’ organisations.

“Landlords and the government often frame tenant engagement as ‘customer engagement’, but this assumes a certain level of consumer choice that most social housing tenants just do not have,” reads the statement.

“We want to see participatory, democratic and accountable tenants’ organisations influencing decision-making about social housing at all levels. The government could help by requiring landlords to set aside a proportion of tenants’ rents to fund the establishment and running of independent local and landlord-wide tenants and residents’ organisations”.

Other proposals include ringfencing public land for the provision of social rented housing, returning historic Right to Buy capital receipts to local authorities to fund new council homes and scrapping the ‘Affordable Rent’ model which allows social landlords to charge up to 80% of market rent to their tenants.