Boris’s affordable housing failure exposes his true colours – dishonesty and indifference

Hundreds of thousands of Londoners are being priced out of London's housing market, yet Boris doesn’t seem to care.

Hundreds of thousands of Londoners are being priced out of London’s housing market, yet Boris doesn’t seem to care

Boris Johnson’s usual tactic when it comes to deflecting criticism is waffle; he’s very good at it. Yet last week when I forced the Mayor to reveal that despite London’s growing housing crisis he is set to miss his target for affordable house building, he briefly showed his true colours, moving from waffle to dishonesty and indifference.

For a long time it has been clear to everyone but Boris that the pledge to build 55,000 new affordable homes by March 2015 is well off track. As of this September, with less than a year to go, the Mayor had only delivered 38,412 affordable homes, leaving more than 16,000 to be built in order to meet March’s target.

When I questioned the Mayor at MQT last week he tried moving the goalposts, denying that the target had ever been March 2015. In politics a lot is said in shades of grey but the deputy mayor for housing was refreshingly clear about this deadline a matter of months earlier:

Darren Johnson (chair): Thank you and welcome, David [Lunts], for this next item on the Mayor’s affordable housing commitments. I am going to start off with the first question. Is the Mayor still on target to deliver 55,000 affordable homes by March 2015?

Richard Blakeway (deputy mayor for housing, land and property):  Yes.

Indeed the deputy mayor was so proud of the target he’s previously talked about it quite a bit:

  • “Ultimately, the completions will run until March 2015”,
  • “It is a four-year programme which has had a very clear deadline of March 2015. “

Even the Mayor himself has been adamant about the timeline:

  • “I have pledged to deliver 55,000 affordable homes between April 2011 and March 2015”
  • “I am currently on track to achieve the 55,000 affordable housing target to March 2015”

The problem with Boris’s waffle is that it often has little to no basis in fact. When you actually get below the surface and challenge the detail he either doesn’t know or worse doesn’t care.

This is a devastating situation for Londoners as this is clearly yet another pledge which Boris is going to fail to keep.

Yet instead of owning up to his failure, he resorts to dishonesty, denying the target was ever March 2015, and then indifference, stating “well I don’t know, whenever we’ve done them”.

The Mayor’s attitude towards affordable housing is outrageously blasé given the scale of the housing crisis facing the capital. Hundreds of thousands of Londoners are being priced out of buying by the capital’s eye-watering house prices, yet Boris Johnson just doesn’t seem to care about the impact that has.

Maybe it’s because by March 2015 Boris will be fully focused on becoming an MP that he doesn’t care. Whatever the reason we urgently need to see action to put the scheme back on track to deliver the affordable housing London so desperately needs, as ultimately it will be Londoners not the Mayor who suffer.

Tom Copley is London Assembly Labour Group spokesperson on housing

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.