One of the more insidious changes introduced by the Conservative Government since 2010 and driven hard during Boris Johnson’s spell as Mayor of London was the systematically undermining of the meaning of the word ‘affordable’ in affordable housing. Allowing the term to include anything up to 80% market rent gave rhetorical cover for budget cuts and loosening pressure on developers.
If elected to run the council on May 3rd Westminster Labour are committed to doing things differently. Delivering vitally needed new council (social) housing to tackle homelessness, overcrowding and poor housing conditions will be central to Labour’s plan, however other forms of affordable housing will be required both due to issues of build cost and the need to give lower and middle income families the ability to find a home in Westminster.
If Labour win the Council we will create a new type of affordable housing- Westminster Key Worker Homes. We will commit that, in addition to social housing, all new affordable housing built on council land will be at rents that are affordable to residents on average and below average incomes. We will ensure that these homes are focused on providing opportunities for long-standing residents of Westminster and key workers such as nurses, teachers, firefighters and the police.
Leader of the Labour Group Cllr Adam Hug said “Labour are committed to delivering new council housing in Westminster but we also want to do more to give ordinary Westminster families the chance to build a life in Westminster. We are committed to making affordable housing actually affordable to residents on average and below average incomes with Westminster Key Worker Homes.”
Westminster Key Worker Homes would be based on the first two (lower quartile and median household income) of Westminster Council’s four intermediate rent bands (which also include an upper quartile band and a top band between the upper quartile and the £90k affordable housing income cap).
The Westminster Keyworker Homes scheme would retain preferential access for members of the Armed Forces. We will also continue efforts to provide access to social housing for residents on low incomes.
Labour would push developers to deliver significantly more affordable housing than they have before now on their schemes on private land. These homes would provide opportunities for a wide range of residents with a focus on supporting long-term Westminster residents and key workers.
Labour will ensure that Westminster Council’s affordable housing targets are based on delivering 60% social and 40% intermediate homes as they are now- rejecting Conservative plans to flip this ratio to 60% intermediate and 40% social.