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London Assembly calls for TfL surplus to fund affordable homes

The London Assembly has backed a motion calling for the Mayor of London to introduce measures to tackle the capital's housing crisis, including the release of Transport for London (TfL) revenue surpluses to finance new affordable housing.27 Feb 2013

The motion called on the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to use flexibilities over the distribution of business rates to release some of the surpluses generated by TfL to meet the financing costs of building new affordable homes across the capital.

The motion also called for other measures to be introduced, including a "know-your-rights" website for tenants, investigation of the feasibility of a London-wide public lettings agency and an examination of the affordability of London rents and potential mechanisms for stabilising rent increases.

It also called for boroughs to be assisted in using the full range of enforcement powers at their disposal to crack down on rogue private landlords.

The motion said it believed that a large new affordable homes building programme would boost jobs and growth in London as well as addressing the capital's chronic shortage of affordable homes.

“London needs a massive increase in the number of new affordable homes to ensure that Londoners can find a good place to live at a reasonable price, and stop them being ripped off by rogue landlords and dodgy letting agents," said Assembly member Stephen Knight, who had proposed the motion.

“The money is out there. Over each of the last three years alone, Transport for London’s unbudgeted surpluses have topped a quarter of a billion pounds and it is time that cash was put to work easing the housing crisis," he said.

“Nobody can deny that London is facing a housing crisis," said Assembly member Nicky Gavron. "Every day we see standards going down, while complaints go up and rents – for those lucky enough to find a home - are skyrocketing."

“Thousands of the worst-off are being forced to choose between heating and eating, yet TfL generates hundreds of millions of pounds in surplus revenue. The Mayor now also has the freedom to redistribute business-rates and holds enough undeveloped land to cover Hyde Park five times over. Why can’t it be put to use?” Gavron said.