Sadiq Khan has proclaimed a resurgence of “affordable” home-building in London with the release of statistics showing that the number of dwellings priced below market levels got underway with his financial help has hit and exceeded a total agreed with national government.
In a speech to members of London’s housing sector at a development site by the Royal Docks, the Mayor announced that 116,000 “starts” on what he deems “genuinely affordable” homes for part-ownership or rent have been made by housing associations and councils with the help of funds provided by the government and then allocated by City Hall under Khan’s first affordable homes programme, covering 2016 to the end of March 2023.
Khan hailed the figures as demonstrating his commitment to building “a London for everyone” amid continuing rises in the cost of buying or privately renting a home in the capital, describing “London’s housing crisis as a brake on growth and a barrier to Londoners fulling their potential” and as “key to safeguarding the soul of our city”.
Congratulating developer Mount Anvil, its housing association partner Riverside, which will manage the 40 per cent affordable homes, and Newham Council on the scheme, Khan said his administration was unleashing a “big bang” affordable housing “revolution”.
But he stressed that solving the capital’s housing problems remains “the greatest challenge facing our city” and highlighted the plight of families “trapped in overcrowded, damp and mould-infested flats”, graduates and couples hoping to start a family unable to afford places of their own and rough sleepers.
Khan also made the case that London’s extremely high housing costs are not only contributing to cost of living pressures but also “hurting small businesses, as people’s income are being swallowed up by extortionate rents” as well as “pricing out young professionals, families and key workers”.
His speech came as estate agent Hamptons said the average monthly rent in the capital now stands at over £2,200 and following property website Rightmove putting the figure at £2,500. Khan again called on the government to “improve renters’ rights” and to give him powers “to introduce a rent control system for London that would allow us to freeze rents giving renters badly needed respite”.
The announcement that 116,000 affordable home starts have been made was preceded by suggestions that the target might not be met at the end of the near-seven year period allowed for getting them underway.
City Hall says the 116,000 starts target “includes 2015-16”, which was Boris Johnson’s final year in office, because “the funding settlement confirmed by Sadiq in November 2016 included funding for legacy programmes and starts on site that were categorised in the 2015-16 financial year”. The figures released show 7,189 affordable starts during the 2015/16 financial year.
Khan’s administration initially negotiated receipt of £3.15 billion of the government’s national affordable homes budget in 2016, soon after Khan was first elected, to go towards the cost of 90,000 “affordable” homes, almost two-thirds of them in the intermediate “low cost home ownership” range.
This was augmented in spring 2018 by a further £1.67 billion, which encompassed a specific goal of starting at least 10,000 homes built by councils. When the additional money was provided, Khan’s programme was extended by twelve months to the end of the financial year 2021/22 and the target number of starts was increased to 116,000.
A further one-year extension was later agreed in recognition of the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, meaning the starts target had to be officially hit by the end of March 2023.
A second affordable homes programme, initially overlapping with the extended first, is underway, covering 2021-2026 with £4 billion of money from the government going towards another 35,000 affordable starts, just over half of which will be of homes for Social Rent.
Last updated at 16:20.
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