All the challenges Keir Starmer faces in London from housing to crime after promising change

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer delivers a speech during a victory rally at the Tate Modern in London
-Credit: (Image: JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)


One word was heard throughout the General Election campaign a lot more than others: change. Labour's campaign leads saw this as the message that would most likely usher the party to Number 10 for the first time in 14 years as the public came to the view that it was time to try something different.

Answers to questions about Labour's plans for government, and its manifesto, were guarded and safe. But, at the same time, the core message of change adopted by Sir Keir Starmer et al will have naturally set high expectations amongst the electorate.

They will be expecting their lives to change tangibly for the better. First of all, the new administration will be given a bit of time to get their house in order and set things in motion.

READ MORE: London issues that could cause friction between Keir Starmer and Sadiq Khan after Labour landslide

But as the weeks and months go by, Londoners will be looking out for positive signs of progress. These are the issues that are most pressing in the capital at the moment, and none will be a surprise to you.

Housing and homelessness

The new Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rachel Reeves, set out her housing plans on Monday morning (July 8), insisting that she wanted to see social and affordable homes built. She added that the Government needed the private sector to build homes, telling the audience: "We are not going to be in the business of building those homes directly."

But, Ms Reeves added that the Government will take an 'interventionist approach' to make sure there is a 'housing mix' that people need.

I raised London's huge housing waiting lists - numbering tens of thousands in multiple boroughs - with now housing minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Angela Rayner during the General Election campaign in June. I also asked what short term solutions would be deployed to get people housed that would not exacerbate their situation.

Rachel Reeves gives a speech at the Treasury
Rachel Reeves set out the Government's housing plans on Monday morning (July 8) -Credit:Jonathan Brady - Pool/Getty Images

Ms Rayner suggested that getting rid of Section 21 'no fault' eviction notices would help cut the number of people left homeless in the capital. She added that she would work with the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to oversee the building of more social housing.

"We have to deal with the supply problem that we have got as well, and that's why we've got a programme to build more social houses. With a Labour government," Ms Rayner said. "Working with [City Hall] to deliver that, I think we can tackle homelessness [...] and also make sure that people can get the houses they deserve."

With rough sleeping at record highs in London after doubling in recent years, Mr Khan has promised to work with a Labour government to eliminate it from the city by 2030. Speaking to some homeless people on streets in West London last week, one person told me that there were too many 'hoops' that people needed to jump through to get help from local authorities.

This is also an issue described by homeless charities. This suggests that the new government may need to jump in and make changes to housing processes.

Cost of living

An issue raised time and time again by voters during the campaign was the still rising cost of living. Former Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, made a big thing of inflation being lowered to the Bank of England's target rate a few weeks ago.

But Londoners told me that they were not feeling this. Nainesh Patel, the owner of an office supply shop in Finchley, described how business had 'totally collapsed' in the area, and he is at risk of having to close as people do not have the cash to spend on his supplies.

Nainesh Patel pictured in his stationary shop in Finchley
Nainesh Patel, owner of an office supply shop, says he is struggling to get by week by week -Credit:Adam Toms/MyLondon

He said: "It's the trend. People don't have any extra money in their pocket due to the cost of living and the high interest rates at the moment." Others said the 'system isn't working' and locals were going hungry. "The masses are really crying", Otatilewa Alao, a Conservative Party member, told me.

As inflation has returned to normal, the shock of such rapid price rises of late should subside to some extend. But, the fact is that inflation is still happening and many people's coffers - especially those running small businesses - will most likely not feel any fuller any time soon.

Crime

For some Londoners, crime is part of their weekly and daily lives. During the campaign, I talked to people living in Edmonton as the most gun crime had been recorded in Enfield of late.

Janet Linge, 70, described how she had recently had her purse stolen while out and about. She said: "There is crime. I'm not being funny, I mean I went out the other day and I had my purse stolen. So, there is crime but I don't see a lot of violent crime."

Ms Linge added: "I've been left without money for nearly two weeks [...] People don't think of what they're doing to the people that they steal from. You know, but what can you do?"

Janet Linge sitting on a bench in Edmonton
Janet Linget recently had her purse stolen -Credit:Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon

Other residents said that they hear of shootings 'every week', including outside their homes, and locals are scared to go out at night. This sense of dread and being surrounding by violence in one's community is something the new Government needs to address.

Mr Khan and Sir Keir have promised to 'bear down' on crime, the former by stopping it early using youth projects, the latter by making it impossible to order knives online by post.

NHS

The health service of course is also something that the new Government is already seeking to address. Polling suggested that waiting lists were high on the list of voters' priorities.

I spoke to Razia Alam, 83, in Finchley. She has been waiting for an NHS hip replacement for two years. Now, she has decided to go to Bangladesh and pay for the operation, which could cost as much as £9,000.

Razia Alam pictured in a Finchley florist
Razia Alam says she has been waiting for surgery on her hip -Credit:Adam Toms/MyLondon

The result of NHS queues is this sort of prolonged misery and pain, experienced by so many people across our city. The new Health Secretary, Wes Streeting, says work on an extra 40,000 appointments is underway, and talks with striking junior doctors are set to go ahead this week.

Apathy

By far the dominant feeling I picked up on my travels around the city during the six-week General Election campaign was one of apathy - a sense that things were not going to get better, and that politicians did not make a difference and were indistinguishable from one another.

Chris Dowse, 45, who works as a DJ, has lived on the Kirby Estate in Bermondsey for more than a decade. Sitting outside his home, he told me : "It's all a shambles across the board, to be honest. I think they're all as bad as each other.

"And every single time there's an election or anything, they come out with their promises - nothing's ever kept. They say they're going to do this, they're going to do that. Nothing ever gets done."

Chris Dowse poses for photos in the Kirby estate in front of a massive St. George's cross painted on a wall
Chris Dowse is one of the organisers of the estate's flag display -Credit:Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon

This outlook underlines a whole host of problems facing London and the country as a whole. Perhaps the most important thing on this new Government's to-do list is to turn this around, and make sure its message of hope during the campaign is not fruitless.

Want more from MyLondon? Sign up to our daily newsletters for all the latest and greatest from across London here.