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Wednesday, 6 September, 2000, 14:25 GMT 15:25 UK
London faces housing crisis - Livingstone
Houses for sale
Many for sale but prices are high
London faces a housing crisis that could see people in less well paid professions quitting the capital, London Mayor Ken Livingstone has warned.

He said that the cost of housing and transport in London could prompt people such as police officers to leave London and move to the north.

The thing that disappoints me about this government is that three years in, we are not building housing for rent so there is a crisis

Ken Livingstone
"They can move to a quality of life in Yorkshire... where they can be in the countryside in a few minutes, where they won't have to commute for an hour and a half to get to work," he said.

"And they can sell their London home, have a 100,000 cash bonus in their hand and buy something for half that price."

Mr Livingstone said a recent boom in London house prices coupled with a failure by the government to ensure a homes-for-rent building programme was to blame for the current situation.

Mr Livingstone said: "The thing that disappoints me about this government is that three years in, we are not building housing for rent so there is a crisis."

Need for rented homes

The Brent East MP, thrown out of the Labour Party when he ran independently for mayor against its candidate, said that up to 50,000 rented homes used to be built in the capital each year.

Housing associations and local authorities still had a role to play in creating cheaper homes in London, said the left-winger.

"People are continuing to say in this government that London is well provided for. It is quite wrong.

"We have just had a huge cut of the number of areas of London in the deprivation index. That means hundreds of millions of pounds are being switched away from London into areas in the north east."

He added that Prime Minister Tony Blair had been right earlier this year when he said that divisions within regions were bigger than divisions between regions.

Mr Livingstone's comments came after a new study revealed that the north-south divide had become inverted with the good life to be had in the north.

'North-south divide' reversed

The research carried out for the BBC Radio 4's Today programme by the Centre for Economics and Business Research found that rocketing food, transport and housing costs had left many people in the capital with some of the lowest standards of living in the UK.

Wages may be higher in London but soaring costs wiped out the benefits, leaving people worse off than those in the north.

The UK has often been seen in terms of a north-south divide, with the south traditionally feeling the benefits of higher salaries, better transport links and higher employment placing a greater demand on housing.

In the north the loss of traditional industries such as coal mining and shipbuilding have caused higher rates of unemployment, greater poverty but house prices have been significantly lower.

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See also:

22 Aug 00 | Business
North-south divide 'getting bigger'
06 Dec 99 | Business
Homes - a working divide
30 Aug 00 | Business
Property prices top 100,000
01 Aug 00 | Business
London leads housing slowdown
21 Aug 00 | Business
The rise and rise of the South
21 Aug 00 | Business
Outlook gloomy for North East
26 Jun 00 | Education
House price crisis hits beacon school
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