London mayor to kickstart 10,000 new council homes

Sadiq Khan is offering London boroughs the funding to start building 10,000 new council homes over the next four years.

The London mayor has unveiled a £1.67 billion programme, Building Council Homes for Londoners, which aims to boost the number of local authority homes in the capital.

The programme will offer expertise and funding to London boroughs to scale up their homebuilding programmes.

It will also offer councils help to replace homes sold through Right to Buy with an innovative way to ringfence receipts.

The controversial Right to Buy programme was introduced in 1980 and, according to Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government figures, it has resulted in 306,000 social homes sold by councils in London since 1980.

During the same period, councils have built only 62,000 homes at social rent – equivalent to just one in five of those homes sold being replaced.

The first deals under the Building Council Homes for Londoners programme have already been struck with Waltham Forest, Lewisham and Newham councils.

Waltham Forest plans to start 525 new council homes with £26m of funding from City Hall over the next four years, while both Newham and Lewisham have each committed to starting 1,000 new council homes by 2022.

‘I grew up on a council estate and I know first-hand the vital role social housing plays in London,’ said the London mayor.

‘Council homes for social rent bind our city together, and they have been built thanks to the ambition of London’s councils over many decades.

‘Back in the 1970s, when I was growing up, London councils built thousands of social homes, providing homes for families and generations of Londoners,’ added Mr Khan.

‘But the government has turned its back on local authorities, severely hampering their ambition to build by cutting funding and imposing arbitrary restrictions on borrowing.

‘I am proud to launch Building Council Homes for Londoners – the first ever City Hall programme dedicated to new council housing. I want to help councils get back to building homes for Londoners again, and I’m doing that with support from the £1.67bn fund I secured from government to help get 10,000 new homes underway over the next four years.’

Commenting on the London mayor’s announcement, the Centre for London’s research director, Richard Brown, said: ‘In addition to £1.7bn funding, the Mayor has announced welcome new measures to enable more flexible use of Right to Buy receipts and council borrowing powers – two recommendations of our report Strength in Numbers, published last year.

‘Boroughs should have greater involvement in housebuilding – directly and through wholly owned companies. With these new measures in place, and new councillors arriving in town halls across the capital, the time is ripe for a council housing renaissance in London.’

Jamie Hailstone
Senior reporter - NewStart


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