Elizabeth Tsurkov, Founder of Creative London (Author of “Rebuild the City”)
At the end of 2015, I thought London had a housing problem. Six months later, I started blogging about the IWM’s findings. Here’s what I found: London has one of the largest and most affordable rental markets in the world – but also a homelessness crisis.
In 2015, homelessness levels in the capital shot up to their highest level in more than 20 years. It’s clearly not a single thing. It’s a bunch of interconnected problems: a lack of affordable housing, poor planning, and out-of-control London property prices.
My blog has become a big hit, but for some reason, homelessness didn’t get the same attention. When did awareness sink to this point? I started looking for answers to this question. We put so much effort into fighting climate change and terrorism – and I think it’s completely wrong that homeless people are ignored so much.
What has proved to be true is that Brexit is accelerating the problems. Most of the landlords of London’s city neighborhoods already have their border tens of miles away. All the key European players are also being protected by Brexit, meaning that it will be much harder to solve the housing problems outside London. The results are already visible. For the first time in 20 years, the number of private renters in England went down last year. It’s clear that Brexit is pushing England’s housing crisis forward.
The government is not helping. Its response has been a complete failure. We’ve learned some lessons from the government’s urban planning, but I’m still astounded by their attitude. The same government that promises to control immigration is closing down hundreds of publicly funded homes for asylum seekers in central London, which is pushing some asylum seekers away from the centers. It seems to me that after Brexit, London and the UK will be thrown back into a 1930s version of capitalism.
London is the one city with a genuine upside to Brexit, but it’s the very one that risks going downhill most dramatically.