Mayor Boris Johnson says London should be allowed to retain all stamp duty paid on property sales to ensure it has the cash needed to build much needed homes.
Retaining the cash, estimated to be worth £1.3 billion a year, tops a list of proposals the Mayor says would help City Hall and London’s borough increase the the capital’s housing stock and supply of affordable housing.
He has also called on UK Government ministers to transfer surplus government land to City Hall and to remove the limit on the amount councils can borrow.
Speaking on Wednesday, the Mayor said: The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “Since I was elected London’s population has grown by 600,000 and is forecast to rise by a further million at least over the next 25 years. If we do not come up with a new plan to build the homes we need, this great city will suffer and the whole country will feel the consequences.
“What is needed now is a radically different approach which optimises City Hall’s role, unlocks the potential of the capital’s boroughs, allows developers including housing associations to up their game and creates a stable supply of land for housing. Above all, London needs a stable funding stream which will support and accelerate its housing and infrastructure delivery.”
However Len Duvall, Labour’s leader on the London Assembly, claimed the Mayor was failing to deliver the full potential allowed by his current funding.
Mr Duvall said: “Boris could be doing a lot more with the money and powers he already has. If he did get this extra money he would need to seriously up his game as his record so far is woeful.
“On his watch affordable house building in London has collapsed and he is trying to stop local councils from building these desperately needed affordable homes.”
Green Party AM Darren John said he “fully supported” the Mayor’s call for more money and greater devolution of power from Whitehall to build more homes.
However Mr Johnson said “any money should be spent on new social housing, which London has desperately needed for well over a decade.”
He added: “Low income workers cannot afford to rent privately anywhere in London without claiming housing benefit, which is more expensive over the long term than investing in bricks and mortar and represents a huge transfer of public money to private landlords. A £1.3bn per year investment in social housing would be a good start towards redressing the balance.”
The Assembly Member also suggested the Mayor should “call for the power to vary stamp duty rates within London to deter the kind of speculative overseas investment that is still driving up prices.”
The Mayor’s calls for greater funding came on the same day the Assembly launched an investigation into how he and the boroughs can meet London’s housing needs.