The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has welcomed figures that show the capital has built twice as many new council homes than the rest of the country combined, but expressed concern at the lack of progress elsewhere.
It might be regarded as a positive note for the mayor to start his new year, but while Khan used the figures as a platform to reassert his commitment to delivering more council housing – and sing the praises of his policies – he also urged the government “not to completely give up” on the tenure as a “vital” way of delivering affordable homes; he labelled the national figures “appalling”.
New government statistics reveal that an average of 89 council homes a week have been started in London between May 2016 and the end of the last financial year.
The figures also show that last year, local authorities in London started building twice as many council homes than the rest of the country combined, with nearly 11,000 new council homes started in 2022/23.
Since 2016, more than 32,000 council homes have been started in London, with 23,000 directly funded by City Hall. This compares to just 3,520 council homes started in London in the decade before prior.
Khan said: “We inherited a city where council homebuilding was nearly extinct and many believed it couldn’t be revived. We have proven them wrong and are now reversing the years of decline. Every new home we deliver, whether that is funded by City Hall or boroughs, is another London family given the secure, long term home they deserve.
“In contrast, the national figures for council homes are truly appalling. Today I’m urging the Government not to completely give up on council housing as a vital way of delivering affordable homes.”
City Hall claims the turnaround in delivery has been driven by initiatives such as the mayor’s Building Council Homes for Londoners grant funding programme, his Homebuilding Capacity Fund, allowing boroughs to increase their ability to build after a generation of decline, and the new Council Homes Acquisition Programme (CHAP), which gives boroughs the resources to boost their housing supplies by buying homes from the private market.
Rokhsana Fiaz OBE, mayor of Newham, said: “It’s the housing policy failures of central government and their cost of living crisis which has led to the unprecedented housing crisis facing the capital; that the mayor of London is tackling head on. Through a raft of measures, including the Building Council Homes for Londoners programme, families in Newham are reaping the benefits with access to council homes they can afford.
“Through grant funding from the GLA, we’ve been able to reboot council housing in Newham with 1,275 homes being started over the past five years and over 1,000 more council homes to come.
“Our track record shows how our collaboration with the London Mayor and GLA is putting councils at the forefront of housing delivery in the capital once again. Londoners are crying out for desperately needed and genuinely affordable homes. That’s why central government needs to turbo-charge council-led house building in the capital by giving the mayor of London the unallocated money to deliver 10,000 council homes in the coming decade.”
Councillor Helen Dennis, cabinet member for new homes and sustainable development at Southwark Council said: “Having a decent home is foundational. That’s why we’ve prioritised building genuinely affordable homes in Southwark … Mayor of London grants have helped us to start building over 3,000 new council homes across our borough. These homes are desperately needed, and we know that our collective success in providing new council homes will transform the lives of our residents for generations to come.”
Main image: Sadiq Khan, mayor of London. Copyright (c) Greater London Authority
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