Fact-checking Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville on social housing

No, Hackney is not “building more social housing than anywhere else in London”.

Self described “housing geek” Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney, told the Hackney Gazette on 16 November:

“Hackney is building more social housing than anywhere else in London.”

To anyone who has been close to housing campaigns in Hackney, this claim would immediately seem suspicious. The Mayor’s Office told me it was based on figures from the Greater London Authority (GLA).

But the most fully available figures from the GLA — showing how many houses had been built for social rent in each of London’s Local Authorities between April 2015 and April 2016 — placed Hackney 8th, having built 39 homes for social rent*.

The Mayor’s claim is not backed up by the data

Maybe Hackney is doing better than other areas proportionate to population, or relative to the housing needs of the borough (I’ll look at these issues in more detail in a further post), but it seems clear that Philip Glanville’s core claim — that Hackney is building more social housing than anywhere in London — is false.

Glanville made a similar statement on Twitter this week as well:

Glanville’s use of the phrase “genuinely affordable” suggests that he is talking about social housing, since ‘affordable’ rent is officially set at 80 per cent of local market rate — well above what many people can afford. Social housing, on the other hand, is calculated to be actually affordable to people on low incomes.

As far as the GLA figures are concerned (and Glanville again cited them as his source), it is clear that Hackney was not in the top 5 builders of social housing for London last year, nor, of course, for England.

The GLA figures, though, are not the full story. On 17 November, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) released more up to date statistics on social housing. In this dataset, the DCLG counted social homes built directly by Local Authorities or housing associations as well as those built in programmes for which the GLA was responsible.

Here, you might think, Glanville might do better. If Hackney Council really did pride itself on providing social housing, it might have its own ambitious social housing programme to make up the difference between them and, say, Southwark Council.

In fact, Hackney Council added no social housing in 2015–16, other than homes from GLA programmes. The data shows that when you take into account other sources of social housing, Hackney slips to 9th.

There was actually more social housing built in Islington than in Hackney, thanks to a range of factors

It should be noted that this data was released after Glanville made these claims, but the point here is that it does not help his case.

In Islington, various innovative methods were used to increase social housing. Whether these could be replicated in Hackney is a question for another time, but it is clear that Philip Glanville was some way off the truth when he claimed that Hackney is building more social housing than anywhere in London.

Philip Glanville’s office was asked for comment on this story, and to clarify the figures, but has not yet done so.

*Any Local Authority that has been excluded from this table built no social housing in 2015–16.