Goldsmith calls for more affordable homes in London in housing bill

Goldsmith calls for more affordable homes in London in housing bill

by 8th November 2015 1 comment

Powered by Guardian.co.ukZac Goldsmith, the Conservatives’ London mayoral candidate, has said he will propose amendments to the government’s housing bill to require local authorities to build two affordable homes for every one they sell off in London.

Speaking during the bill’s second reading in the Commons, the Tory MP said he supported the proposed legislation in principle, but that it needed amending to “guarantee it works for Londoners”.

“I stood on a manifesto, like all of us on these benches, which committed us to help introduce this bill,” said Goldsmith. “But there is no doubt, as the frontbench accepts, I believe, that this bill does need amending.

“London council homes are far more valuable than elsewhere and without a change we are going to see a disproportionate flow of resources out of London. So I want to amend this bill to guarantee it works for Londoners.”

The government’s housing and planning bill will require councils to sell the top third of their most valuable council homes from their remaining stock to part fund the extension of right to buy to housing association homes. The remaining profit is intended to fund a one-for-one replacement of affordable housing in the area.

“We should extend the right to buy but at the same time we must gain significant number of low-cost homes and we know that is possible,” said Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park.

“The amendment I will table after this debate will ask for a binding guarantee London will see a net gain in affordable housing as a consequence of this policy, a guarantee that in addition to the replaced housing association homes London will see at least two low-cost homes built for every single high-value home sold.”

The bill will not apply in Scotland, where right to buy is being abolished, and Monday’s debate was the first under the new English votes for English laws rules. Once the bill passes its second reading in the Commons a so-called grand committee of English MPs, and one of English and Welsh MPs, will be required to consent to relevant clauses.

Goldsmith said he had secured support for his amendment from every backbench London Tory MP and he urged Labour MPs to “resist the temptation just briefly to wave flags” and to join his campaign.

Labour’s candidate for mayor, Sadiq Khan, has said London’s mayoral election will be a referendum on Tory housing policy. On Monday he pointed to government figures that show that since 2012 only one in seven of the homes sold off under right to buy have been replaced. “How can anyone believe it will be any different this time?” asked the MP for Tooting.

“Isn’t this kind of remarkable that at a time when new homes being built in inner London are being bought by investors overseas this government is now forcing councils to sell family homes to those very same foreign investors at a time when the need for Londoners to have homes that are affordable has never been greater?”

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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