London mayor set to clash with central government, which diverted Decent Homes budget to new housing in other areas
Boris Johnson has set himself on a collision course with central government, pledging to make good on its broken promises to refurbish more than 100,000 of London’s worst council houses.
The London mayor has instructed the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), which he chairs, to plug the Decent Homes gap opened up by John Healey, the housing minister, during the recent housing pledge.
Last month, the minister “re-profiled” £150m from the national Decent Homes budget as part of a £1.5bn spend on building 20,000 new homes. He said that council arms-length management organisations (Almos) that had not received a two-star quality rating from the Audit Commission would have to wait for at least two years to get their hands on money promised to them.
Johnson wrote: “As mayor, it is my job to defend the capital’s budgets and the city’s poorest. I am looking at how I can use my powers to win back London’s rightful share of new housing funds, and reverse those decisions that condemn many of London’s poorest families to live in unacceptably poor conditions.”
In the letter, Johnson also told Healey he was concerned that money was being diverted from the region’s growth funds to other areas in the country, such as north-east England which he claims has “comparatively less need”.
“North-east England has 300 households living in temporary accommodation versus 48,000 households in London,” he said in a press release.
Nearly half of the national 2009/2010 growth fund budget - £128m – was cut to fund new housebuilding.
Meanwhile, the mayor is seeking legal advice on whether the central government acted outside constitutional law in making changes to the capital’s housing budgets without consulting him or any of London’s boroughs.