Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced that a record number of City Hall-backed affordable homes were started in the Capital last year. Work began on 14,544 new affordable homes (of which 3,991 were homes for social rent) in London in 2018 / 2019, more than any year since the establishment of the Greater London Authority, and well in excess of the Government’s target of 14,000.
The total (which is more than double the figure for 2015 / 2016) also includes the commencement of 1,916 new council homes – more than any year since 1985.
The new homes are part of the Greater London Authority’s £1 billion push to deliver 14,700 new homes in London over the next 3 years, with an extra £4.8 billion in funding secured from central Government.
Commenting on the figures Mr Khan said:
“These record-breaking figures show that focusing on building council and social rented homes for Londoners is the right way to tackle the capital’s housing crisis.
“Not only do these figures beat our own records from last year, but this is more than double the number the previous Mayor started in the final year of his term.
“My Building Council Homes for Londoners programme has made huge progress already – with more council homes started than in any year since 1985. Councils are beginning to build again after decades of their hands being tied behind their backs – but national Government needs to match our ambition and determination to deliver the homes Londoners so urgently need.
“We currently receive only a fraction of the affordable housing investment needed in London. Ministers must make a real step-change in the funding and powers we have in London if we are to truly turn around the capital’s housing crisis.”
Conservatives in the Greater London Authority have however challenged the Mayor’s optimism, with the GLA Conservative Group tweeting:
“The Mayor received a £4.82 billion grant to build 116,000 affordable homes by 2022. After 3 years, Sadiq Khan has only started 34,515. Once again Sadiq Khan has demonstrated that there is an enormous gulf between what he promises and what he delivers.”
Whilst the figures released by City Hall are encouraging in terms of affordable housing, it is clear there is still a long way to go to reach the numbers needed to comprehensively end the housing crisis in the city, with political uncertainty causing a dramatic slowdown of the property market over the last year. Government figures released last month revealed that in London’s Zone 2 work began on only 77 new homes in the first quarter of 2019 – down 97% on the same time period in 2015.
With the lifting of the local authority borrowing cap, it is likely that we will see a sustained increase in the amount of council homes completed in the coming years, as councils regain the ability to implement their own large development programmes. However, with no end to Brexit uncertainty on the horizon it could be months – if not years – before an uplift in the private sector allows building to reach the levels needed to address the housing need in London.