Housing Need (London)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:38 am on 29th June 2010.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Liberal Democrat, Carshalton and Wallington 11:38 am, 29th June 2010

Thank you, Mr Howarth. I shall follow your stricture and keep my remarks to 10 minutes or thereabouts.

I congratulate Jeremy Corbyn on securing this debate. He is right: many of the usual suspects are present for it. They include some ex-Ministers who share responsibility for the housing situation that we have in London.

It is fair to say that housing has been neglected by successive Governments and that the problem in London has not emerged in the past couple of months. There are different figures for how many households in London are looking for or waiting for social housing, but 350,000 has been quoted to me. Whichever figure one takes, a substantial number of people need social housing.

Clearly, as a result of demographic changes in London, pressure on housing will increase as the population increases. Demand might rise further if the coalition proposal to safeguard housing rights for people who are looking for work and perhaps coming to London has an impact, which it could. The proposal has some merit, but for it to work, we need some spare capacity in housing in London. I would not want such a proposal to displace people who are waiting for housing in London and who, in many cases, are being advised that they could wait for seven, eight, nine or 10 years. Such waiting times are being quoted to some people in my borough.

Clearly, too, the housing benefit changes, to which many hon. Members have already referred, will have an impact. There is some evidence, certainly in the commercial sector, that some landlords are responding to the present financial situation and, if not knocking down prices, holding prices for leases that run for four or five years.