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London Citizens Launch Housing Manifesto 2016

The London Citizens Housing Manifesto for 2016 was launched today, 25 th January 2016, in front of 150 members outside City Hall. Leaders called on the London Mayoral candidates to back a London Living Rent as a mark of genuinely affordable renting and include it in the next London Plan. The launch coincided with the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation board meeting, where a delegation of leaders urged board members to ensure 50% of homes developed on the site are genuinely affordable for Londoners.

Children and adults alike gathered for the launch, using children’s toy houses, balloons and placards to stress the importance of affordable housing being made integral to developments using public land, which would benefit local people.

Testimony was delivered by Vitor Do Gado, a 14 year old student at Newman Catholic College, Harlesden, who said: “Housing is a real problem for so many families in London. My parents work hard to look after me and my two siblings. We used to live in Harlesden. It was our home, where we went to school, have friends and good neighbours. We can’t afford to buy a house, so my parents rent a two bedroom house for us to live in. The landlord gave them two months’ notice that he was increasing the rent from £1,300 per month to £1,900. They haven’t had pay rises to the same degree, and we don’t eat less or grow less or need fewer clothes, so there was just no way that they could pay. We had to move. We couldn’t afford to stay in the area.

“Now we live in North Wembley. It takes me at least an hour to get to school each day. I’m worried that this landlord could do the same, and we will have to move again. It’s hard to feel settled. It would make such a difference if there were more truly affordable homes in the area for people to buy and rent.”

Children smiling outside tents
Children smiling outside tents

A key element of the manifesto is the call for a London Living Rent. Citizens UK has been working with a number of housing experts to develop a London Living Rent model linked entirely to local incomes.

Carolynn Brennan, Millbank Residents Association, Holy Apostles, Pimlico and London Citizens member said:

“My husband and I are both nurses living in social housing in Pimlico. My rent has gone up 30% in the last four years. My pay has gone up by around 4%. Many people are in a similar situation. Our 'affordable rents' are no longer affordable. For me and my family our future is unknown. We cannot afford to buy at this stage in our life. We face relentless rent increases. We are stuck in our situation waiting until the rent rises become more than our salary will allow. Personally I feel betrayed. We have always tried to do our bit to help the people of London and this is how we are being treated.”

Fr Simon Cuff, Christ the Saviour, Ealing, and London Citizens leader said: “The word ‘affordable’ no longer means what most people understand by the term. In recent years, the definition of affordability has shifted from being partly linked to people’s incomes to being entirely linked to the market rate. A London Living Rent will reconnect the provision of affordable housing to incomes, and is based on the principle that Londoners should not have to spend more than one third of their income on rent. Newer ‘intermediate’ and ‘sub-market’ rents, along with most shared ownership homes, remain unaffordable to the average Londoner. For those on low incomes, this means linking a London Living Rent to the lowest quartile of income (25%) for any given local authority. For those on average incomes, a London Living Rent would be linked to the median wage (50%).”

The asks included in the London Citizens Housing Manifesto 2016 will be put to London Mayoral candidates Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan at a 6,000 people London Citizens Assembly on 28 th April at The Copper Box Arena. Citizens UK has previously hosted London Mayoral assemblies and national General Election assemblies attracting Prime Ministerial candidates from the main political parties.

The Housing Manifesto 2016 can be found here .

Posted on 25 Jan, 2016