This answer details the various causes of the London housing crisis, with a focus on the lack of affordable and social housing projects.
Why is there a housing crisis in London?
The housing crisis is the result of a major gap in supply and demand, with the latter attributed to natural growth in population and immigration and changes in living patterns with more people choosing to live alone. For example, it is predicted that there will be an increase of 30-34,000 households in London every year for the next 25 years with a high proportion of single person households (Ambrose and Jenkins 2011, p.1). To put the gap in housing supply in context it is estimated that the number of households on social housing waiting lists has doubled between 1997 and 2010 equating to 11.2% of all households in the capital because the supply of affordable housing was less than 25% of that needed in London leading to overcrowding and long waiting lists, putting pressure on the private rental sector and increasing rents due to increased competition for properties (Ambrose and Jenkins 2011).
The under-supply of affordable housing is attributed to a complex mix of social and fiscal policy (Hodkinson and Robbins 2013), in a property sector where supply of housing is limited by the planning system, a lack of available development land, the slow release of brownfield sites and in some case community opposition to building, also referred to as the Not In My Backyard scenario. The under-supply of affordable housing in the capital is in part due to the slow evolution of social policy away from the provision of social housing and failed regeneration policies that set out to regenerate socially disadvantaged areas but resulted in gentrification of these areas (Hodkinson et al. 2013; Tallon 2013; Archer and Cole, 2014). Supply has not been helped by the recent financial crisis in the housing market or the fact that property values are increasing year-on-year in part because of foreign investment in the city which puts a high volume of properties out of the range of the average household (Edwards 2016; Tallon 2013).
Ambrose, P. and Jenkins, B., 2011. Housing Crisis in London. London: The Pro-Housing Alliance, pp.1-35.
Archer, T. and Cole, I., 2014. Still not plannable? Housing supply and the changing structure of the housebuilding industry in the UK in ‘austere’ times. People, Place and Policy, 8(2), pp.93-108.
Edwards, M., 2016. The housing crisis and London. City, 20(2), pp.222-237.
Hodkinson, S. and Robbins, G., 2013. The return of class war conservatism? Housing under the UK Coalition Government. Critical Social Policy, 33(1), pp.57-77.
Hodkinson, S., Watt, P. and Mooney, G., 2013. Introduction: Neoliberal housing policy–time for a critical re-appraisal. Critical Social Policy, 33(1), pp.3-16.
Tallon, A., 2013. Urban Regeneration in the UK. Abingdon: Routledge.