Government’s ‘destructive’ housing legislation under fire from Tower Hamlets mayor

John Biggs... attacking Housing Act

John Biggs... attacking Housing Act - Credit: Labour Pty

The Mayor of London’s most deprived borough with the longest housing waiting list has today launched a blistering attack on the government’s Housing and Planning Act which he warns is killing off “affordable housing” in inner city districts.

Social housing under threat

Social housing under threat - Credit: Archant

Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs fears it is severely limiting the ability of local authorities to house families and is pricing them out of the East End.

“The Housing Act will lead to a huge loss of affordable homes,” he said. “The government is giving developers free license to build fewer genuinely affordable homes, by calling massively-expensive Starter Homes ‘affordable’ housing.”

The Act, which received Royal Assent on May 12, will have “a devastating impact”—with Town Hall officials forecasting having to sell off 100 family homes in Tower Hamlets alone in the next five years and thousands more properties at risk.

The government’s Starter Homes programme would then be classed as “affordable” despite costing up to £450,000 on the London property market which the Mayor warned would undermine efforts to make housing more “genuinely affordable” to ordinary families.

Renters protest for 'fair deal' charter at Tower Hamlets town hall

Renters protest for 'fair deal' charter at Tower Hamlets town hall - Credit: Archant

Tower Hamlets has a chronic housing waiting list well above 20,000, the worst in Greater London. It has the fastest-growing population in the country while having to tackle a homeless crisis and secure a better deal for private-renters, the mayor points out.

But the Housing and Planning Act will severely limit the Town Hall’s ability to meet these priorities. The council has begun public consultations about the new legislation in a bid to “protect families from the worst excesses of this destructive Act”.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s inaugural speech in Downing Street last week also came under fire from mayor Biggs, accusing her of being at the heart of a government which “cut countless millions from vital public services while offering tax cuts to the highest earners”. He claimed her promises when she moved into No 10 were “rhetoric and hot air”.

Council housing under threat

Council housing under threat - Credit: Archant