Devolve more power to help London housing crisis

Catalyst has co-sponsored a new report by the IPPR London Housing Commission, available to view now on the IPPR website, which explores solutions to the housing crisis in the capital.

The report, ‘Building a new deal for London’, recommends a range of options representing a radical devolution of housing powers to London’s government. Without much greater powers over planning, taxation, and spending, the report argues, London will soon have only 50% of the homes it needs to house its population. The recommendations would help boroughs to raise funds for new building and make better use of existing housing stock. They include:

  •  New planning powers: Give the Mayor power to ‘call in’ boroughs and their plans, where they are failing to identify enough land for homes or refusing too many applications to build new homes.
  • Increase local borrowing: Increase GLA’s borrowing powers and lift the cap on the borough housing borrowing limits.
  • Keep more local stamp duty: Allow London to keep more of the stamp duty raised from homes in London, adjusting the rates over time.
  • New local planning fees: Devolve responsibility for setting planning fees to allow boroughs to charge higher fees, enabling them to speed up the planning process.
  • Ban landlords from letting poor quality homes within 10 years: Allow boroughs to set up their own licensing schemes for private landlords and allow them to use the fees to increase enforcement activity – including the condition that if by 2025 landlords haven’t brought rental properties up to a decent standard they should be barred from renting out these homes.
  • Local power on taxing developers: The boroughs should have the power to levy a discretionary tax on developers where agreed housebuilding targets have been missed.
  • Boroughs to set council tax premium on empty and second homes: Lift the cap on council tax premiums for empty and second homes

Catalyst co-sponsored the report along with Mears, Nationwide, and Poplar HARCA. Supporting thought-leadership projects like this, both financially and through our significant understanding of housing need and provision, is a vital part of our contribution to UK housing provision.

With London’s Mayoral elections just months away, the report comes at an ideal time to directly influence housing provision in the capital, and is a great thing for our organisation to have been part of.

View the “Building a new deal for London” report on the IPPR website