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London Assembly: Mayor must ‘go further’ on affordable housing

Housing in London in 2010. © Jorge Royan / http://www.royan.com.ar / CC BY-SA 3.0

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan must ‘go further’ when it comes to delivering affordable housing in the city, the London Assembly has said.

A report by the Assembly’s Housing Committee has found that the total of new affordable homes completed in London last year was well below the average set in the preceding decade.

Over 7,500 homes supported by the mayor were completed in 2018/19, a 41% increase on the previous year, but still way down on the average of over 10,000 homes a year ten years ago.

The chair of the Housing Committee, Tom Copley AM, said: ‘There is room for the Mayor to go further.’

City Hall currently estimates that London needs 66,000 new homes each year in order to meet housing demand, of which only around half (32,000) were delivered in 2017/18.

Khan has secured £4.82bn in government grants to fund his target of 116,000 new affordable homes by 2022, but to date only 41,704 (36%) of those homes have been started, the committee found.

Last year, 14,544 affordable homes were started, only just surpassing the lower end of the mayor’s expected range of 14,000 homes. This is despite London needing around 43,000 affordable homes annually to hit its target.

Since Khan came into office in 2016, Tower Hamlets, Ealing, and Newham have seen the highest number of affordable homes started, while Richmond upon Thames, Kingston upon Thames and Kensington and Chelsea have seen the fewest.

Copley said that while it was ‘promising’ to see an increase in the number of homes for social rent, there are still not enough of them, as they made up just over a quarter (27%) of the affordable homes started in the last year.

This is in comparison to intermediate tenure homes, which made up the majority (59%) of affordable homes started in London in 2018/19.

Copley added: ‘The Mayor has delivered the highest number of affordable housing starts in any year since 2010/11. It was promising to see nearly 4,000 homes at social rent levels started, up from zero in 2016/17 when the Mayor took office.

‘However, government-imposed funding conditions mean that the majority of new starts are for intermediate tenures, despite the bulk of need being for homes at social rent levels.’

James Murray, deputy mayor for housing and residential development, insisted the mayor’s focus on building affordable homes is the ‘right way’ to tackle the capital’s housing crisis, pointing out that last year London’s councils got more homes underway than in any year since 1985.

However, Murray insisted London is still held back by national government rules, receiving only a fraction of the affordable housing investment that the city needs.

‘The Mayor has been clear that to go further and help all Londoners find a home they can afford, he urgently needs new powers and vastly increased funding from government,’ he said.

Last month a report published by the National Housing Federation, the G15 and Homes for the North found that the government will not meet its 300,000 homes a year target unless it increases funding for affordable housing.

Chris Ogden
Digital News Reporter

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