Housing Need (London)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:01 am on 29 June 2010.

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Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Labour, Islington North 11:01, 29 June 2010

I am very pleased that we are having this debate, although I am sorry that it will last only an hour and a half. I am sorry that the previous debate collapsed, but we could well have used three hours to discuss housing in London, so it seems that a monumental parliamentary opportunity has been lost. I hope that the hon. Members concerned will reflect on the situation because we are sent here to represent the people and to try to deal with their problems.

I am resuming the debate on housing in London. There is a slight feeling of déjà vu-the actors in the theatre have changed only slightly-because we have discussed housing needs in London many, many times before, and I suspect there will be many more debates on the subject. London Members know that there is no bigger issue, no greater stress and no greater problem that faces all our constituents than housing, whether that relates to people who are trying to buy, people who are trying to get social housing, people who are going through the problems of being a leaseholder or people who are living in private rented accommodation.

The levels of housing stress with which MPs deal are absolutely enormous, but I need not go over that in too much detail because hon. Members in the Chamber will be well aware of it. The levels of stress associated with problems of overcrowding, and of uncertainty and insecurity of tenure, lead to ill health, underachievement in school, family break-up and unemployment, and they have a wholly corrosive effect on our society. I am not asking for something special because we are talking about London. I am asking for recognition that the whole country faces serious housing problems and that they are even worse in London than throughout the rest of the country.

One could quote many relevant statistics at great length. I shall not cite a vast number of figures, but I would like to run through some information that was helpfully provided to me by Crisis. Reading across the piece, the average house price in London is £362,000, which is £140,000 higher than that in the rest of the country, and the average income is £26,000 a year, which is £6,000 more than in the rest of the country. The gross annual income needed for a mortgage in London is £93,000-it is £109,000 in my borough-so we can easily see the disconnect that exists.

Total local authority stock in London is 432,000 and housing association stock is 350,000. The number of new lettings by local authorities was around 23,000 last year, with 22,000 lettings by housing associations. Some 353,000 families are on the waiting list for social housing in London, of whom 52,000 are in temporary accommodation, while the number of households accepted as homeless is 12,000, although that relates to the last year for which figures are available. All that information shows that buying anywhere is unaffordable, that there are huge waiting lists for social housing and that the number of homeless people is rapidly increasing. The 12,000 London households accepted as homeless represent about a fifth of the total for the whole United Kingdom.