London Election 2016: candidates go head to head on housing
London’s next mayoral election on 5 May will be held in the midst of a testing time for British politics and Britons in the run up to the EU referendum vote on 23 June. Two broke away from the pack of contenders early on: Sadiq Khan for Labour and Zac Goldsmith for the Conservative Party, and swiftly took to the rooftops to don their fluorescent jackets and hard hats in true political form. The contrasting candidates have toured the width and breadth of London to persuade constituents on how they think London should be improved, but as May draws near, housing policies could sway the vote in their favour. Here are the two sets of policies on offer.
Sadiq Khan MP
- Son of a bus driver
- Grew up on a London council estate
- Elected MP for Tooting in 2005
- A human rights lawyer before moving into politics
- Appointed shadow minister for London in 2013.
The electability of left-leaning Sadiq Khan comes at a critical time for Labour as a loss this May would be their third defeat in a traditionally Labour city. The Sadiq campaign has advertised his upbringing on a London council estate to its full extent and plugged the candidate as a ‘true Londoner’. The former human rights lawyer has been vocal about UK civil liberties, what are his plans for London’s housing stock?
- Campaign for the power to limit rent rises and prevent or limit ‘buy-to-leave’
- Introduction of a London Living Rent that will be aligned to a third of average incomes
- Allow first-time buyers and tenants access to development properties before others
- Introduce a 50% affordable housing target for all new London developments
- Identify more publically owned land for development
- Create a not-for-profit letting agency in the capital
- Invest unspent capital in the London Affordable Homes Programme and develop ‘London Home Bonds
- Continue brownfield land development in collaboration with local councils
- Disapproves of Right to Buy.
Zac Goldsmith MP
- Son of a financier and tycoon
- Born in the City of Westminster
- Elected MP for Richmond Park in 2010
- A previous editor of The Ecologist magazine before moving into politics
- Author of the The Constant Economy: How to Create a Stable Society
Blue frontrunner Zac Goldsmith is a paradox and Tory rebel, having opposed a number of key Conservative proposals, from the sale of England’s state owned forests to the expansion of Heathrow, but with a yearly income that could alienate a large proportion of the electorate on paper. This candidate is certainly a fierce environmentalist, but what are his housing policies?
- 50,000 extra homes a year for London
- The creation of a pan-London fund for international investors to finance new homes
- More certainty over rent increases, longer-term tenancies, and reining in rogue landlords to improve tenant stability
- A pledge to put empty London homes back on the market
- A continuous release of public-owned brownfield land
- Greater community consent over new development
- Regenerate dated council estates while retaining the same rent prices
- Approves of Right to Buy.
Zac Goldsmith has declared “that the capital is the best place to live on Earth” while Khan has preferred to focus on the city as a place of opportunity. Judging by both sets of policies, the two will both fight the same battles in the role of London mayor, from empty homes and housing supply, to the development of brownfield land. The absence of a Boris Johnson big personality factor may be missed by some, leaving the vote open to a range of deciding factors like swing voters and how both parties conduct themselves in the run up to the referendum. Both have developed ambitious housing policies for the years ahead, and demonstrate that they have a hold on the biggest issues in the London housing market, so either candidate could provide a much-needed boost for London, but media attention may lie elsewhere by May.
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