HARA response to Mayor’s draft London Housing Strategy (link to full response)
The entire strategic direction of the London Housing Strategy must be to promote long-term accessibility to cheap, secure and good-quality housing. It must avoid short-term measures that cause long-term harm, such as public land sales to plug revenue accounts; or rent increases that make social housing unaffordable over time. Planning policy should be arrived at via needs assessment. It must prioritise support through funding and strategic policy to retain existing social rented homes in London and build new ones.
Deregulation of housing associations since the Housing Act 2016 means that they are no longer held to account. The Act has torn up rules that protected residents. Housing associations increasingly resemble profit-hungry private developers. The LHS can channel the GLA’s power and influence in several ways to shape housing association culture and practice for the better and help address London’s housing affordability crisis. We propose a strategy whereby:
- The GLA sets conditions on housing associations before it offers funding, planning concessions or sets up strategic partnerships with them. It should favour those housing associations that have maintained their founding ethos as ‘social’ landlords. i.e. associations that: are under the democratic control of their residents and communities; act transparently; cap rents and service charges; stay relatively local and small; prioritise the building and maintaining of social rent homes; and maintain homes to a good standard.
- The Mayor lobbies alongside housing association residents, and other housing campaigners, for changes in Government housing policy towards housing associations, including campaigning for the repeal of the Housing Act 2016, rent and service charge caps at no more than inflation, and against the Right to Buy.
- The GLA monitors and reports on London housing association development programmes and management practices, to gain a better picture of what’s going on, and ultimately hold these unregulated bodies to account.
- The GLA provides funding for advice and support to housing association residents, including groups fighting improve residents’ conditions and rights