What are going to be some of the major issues for Londoners in 2023 and what changes do we need to tackle them?
At the start of the New Year, we've been asking some of the organisations we fund to look ahead to the next 12 months. In this piece, Sharon Hayward from London Tenants Federation reflects on London's housing crisis - and the actions that need to be taken to prevent it from worsening.
The whole social housing sector has been neglected and underfunded for at least 40 years. Over the last 10 years in London, 23,000 social-rented homes have been demolished. This is almost double the number of new homes delivered (12,050).
Throughout 2023, there will continue to be a huge unmet – and growing – need for social-rented housing. Without action, London’s housing crisis will rumble on, pushing millions of low-income households into unacceptably harsh conditions. Adults and children will remain stuck in poor quality temporary homes – separated from close friends, families and social networks. Thousands more will be in overcrowded conditions, deteriorating their health and wellbeing.
And this chronic shortage of social rented housing will continue to mean millions are in private rented housing – often in poor conditions and unaffordable without benefit dependency.
To turn the tide on this housing crisis, we would like to see the Mayor of London producing a new housing needs survey. This would help us to understand the exact levels of need for social-rented homes, laying bare the extent of the crisis and adding pressure to the government for funding and higher targets for this type of housing. We also want to see the Mayor of London set targets for the reduction of overcrowded homes.
Finally, the demolition of suitable social-rented housing needs to stop. We need more social housing, not less. The last few years have also seen increasing numbers of ‘regeneration’ projects of housing estates which, too often, result in the number of social homes being further depleted. We would like to see tenant-led guidance being adopted on this – to put the people who live in these estates’ voices at the centre of any ‘regeneration’ plans. Funding for any schemes that involve the demolition of social-rented homes should be rejected, unless those homes are structurally unsound.
The graph below shows London's poverty rate before and after housing costs are taken into account. When housing costs are taken into account, the proportion of people living in poverty almost doubles.