Labour mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan has been accused of “wilfully misrepresenting” his Tory rival’s position over the definition of affordable housing.
Mr Khan has used a series of public appearances, interviews and speeches to claim that Tory mayoral hopeful Zac Goldsmith believes homes costing £450,000 “are affordable to the typical Londoner”.
The claim is based on Mr Goldsmith’s support for the Government’s Starter Homes scheme which provides buyers with a 20% discount on qualifying properties.
While the scheme is open to those buying homes worth up to £450,000, Mr Goldsmith says the cost of the average property will be “significantly lower” and has highlighted a scheme in Ealing where Pocket Living sold flats for £165,000.
The Tory candidate has also questioned Mr Khan’s ability to meet his pledge that 50% of all homes built under his mayoralty will be “affordable”.
Figures published by City Hall last year (table 2.8) show that no council met Mr Khan’s target over the three year period ending 2013/14, although some met or exceeded the target in individual years.
Although Labour councils delivered some of the highest levels of affordable homes, many fell significantly short of 50% despite 10 of the 16 councils in question having their own 50% target.
Two years ago a coalition of eight Labour councils and the then independent-controlled Tower Hamlets council sought a Judicial Review of Mayor Boris Johnson’s decision to redefine affordable rents as being up to 80% of market rents.
The challenge was rejected by a High Court judge who said the mayor’s policy was consistent with national guidelines and did not prevent local councils “from making appropriate provision for affordable rented housing”.
Like his council colleagues, Mr Khan also believes rents have risen too high under Mr Johnson’s mayoralty and has branded his definition of affordable rents as “a con”.
If elected, the Labour candidate says he would introduce a new Living Rent which is capped at one-third of average local salaries and has pledged to build more homes for social rent.
However the Goldsmith campaign claim that in Labour-controlled Newham just 9% of homes built between 2011-14 were for social rent and that none of the 16 local authorities exceeded the 27% achieved by Hackney.
Mr Goldsmith said Londoners “cannot afford a four year housing experiment that we know will fail.”
He added: “Labour’s record on house building in communities across Greater London proves that a fantasy target chokes off new housing – the same will happen if Corbyn’s candidate Sadiq Khan is elected Mayor.
“If elected Mayor I will stand up for Londoners, working with the Government to secure the funds and powers needed to deliver the homes this city needs and that the next generation can afford the keys to.”