The Mayor of London has called on the government to commit to a 10-year funding plan for the construction of more affordable homes in the capital.
Accusing the government of limiting the ambitions of London councils in regard to the creation of more affordable homes, Sadiq Khan told ministers to “stop blocking the aspiration of London’s councils to build”.
The call came as the mayor launched a new report outlining ways in which the government could do more to boost the construction of new homes in London.
Reforms suggested in the report, Building London’s future: The next generation of council homes, include passing new laws to allow councils to buy land more cheaply, earmarking more government-owned land for council housing, and committing to a 10-long funding plan for council homebuilding.
In 2018, City Hall received £4.8bn from the government to build 116,000 new homes by 2022, including 10,000 new council homes.
Despite 3,300 new council homes starting in the capital last year – the highest number since 1983 – Khan warned that meeting his targets would only be possible with the backing of ministers to “give London the funding and powers we need to build new council homes at scale”.
Last month, the government announced that it would spend £4bn on affordable housing in the capital, despite Greater London Authority-backed research suggesting London needs at least £1bn more every year to meet demand.
“There’s been huge progress in recent years, but I know we can do more,” said Khan.
“We’ve laid the foundations for a new era of council homebuilding to be at the heart of our post-COVID recovery – it is now up to ministers to back us to deliver.”
The report describes the challenges faced by councils in building new homes, including acquiring suitable land, a lack of funding following years of austerity, and a shortfall in skills and expertise among some councils that have not embarked on major house building programmes for years or even decades.
Brent council operation director of housing Hakeem Osinaike said: “The need for truly affordable housing in London cannot be overestimated.
“Councils’ waiting lists are far too long, and too many households are in temporary accommodation.”
London Councils’ executive member for housing and planning, Darren Rodwell, said new housing had a crucial role to play in supporting the capital’s economic recovery.
He said: “We’re enthusiastic supporters of the government’s ‘build, build, build’ agenda, but ministers could do much more to boost resources for council housebuilding and empower us to deliver affordable homes at even greater scale.”
A Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government (MHCLG) spokesperson said: “The government is committed to increasing the supply of affordable housing in London and all parts of the country.
“That’s why we’re investing £12.2bn through the Affordable Homes Programme – the highest single funding commitment to affordable housing in a decade – which will deliver up to 180,000 new affordable homes across the country – this includes £4bn in funding for London.
“We’ve enabled councils to borrow to invest in delivering a new generation of council housing – around 10,000 new homes a year – and we are increasing the supply of land available for new homes where it is needed to address affordability pressures [and] support economic growth and the renewal of our towns and cities.”
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