Double-counting Boris’s latest sleight of hand should come as no surprise

Boris Johnson’s adviser gave a misleading impression about housebuilding in the capital this week - but this should come as no surprise from this administration.

Nicky Gavron AM is the deputy chair of the London Assembly Planning and Housing Committee

Boris Johnson is notoriously light on detail – whether it’s police numbers, crime stats or now, it seems, affordable housing, facts rarely get in the way of a good story.

The national statistics watchdog even took the unusual step of publicly rebuking Mayor Johnson for his misuse of crime stats. The Mayor turned down the commissioner’s offer to abide by the national code of practice for use of statistics in future.

So his latest sleight of hand should come as no surprise.

His housing adviser this week claimed:

“The mayor is on course to deliver 50,000 affordable homes by April 2012… The pipeline of affordable housing for the next four years is also strong, with around 54,000 completions expected.”

Any reader would take this to mean an impressive 104,000 new affordable homes are on the way between 2008 and 2015. But this is not the case. The Mayor is actually counting around 16,000 affordable homes towards both his 50,000 by April 2012 target and the 54,000 over the next four years. He has double counted.

It’s bad enough that the mayor has broken his election pledge to build 50,000 new affordable homes by April 2011.

With 360,000 households on London’s waiting lists and 750,000 people living in overcrowded conditions, to find out now that Boris is counting 16,000 much-needed homes already on the way towards his next target adds insult to injury.

I have written to the Mayor’s adviser for an explanation and to give him the opportunity to set the record straight. But given his past record, I don’t expect a change in approach any time soon.

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