Political opponents of London’s mayor have questioned new figures which show that Sadiq Khan is on track to start 17,000 genuinely affordable homes across the capital this year.
According to data released by the Greater London Authority (GLA), between March and December 2019, 12,546 genuinely affordable homes were started in London, nearly three quarters (74%) of the mayor’s annual target.
This is a hefty increase on the 42% that had been started by this stage of 2018-19.
But Andrew Boff, the Conservatives’ housing spokesman at the GLA, said Khan had failed to deliver homes quickly enough and cast doubt on the accuracy of the latest figures.
“Housing starts are of course important, but so are completions,” said Boff.
“We know that over the course of his term the mayor has completed barely a third of the inadequate number of homes that he started.
“This painfully slow progress means that Londoners are finding it harder than ever to get onto the housing ladder.”
“This mayor has a penchant for cooking the books when it comes to housing figures, having shamelessly counted restarts in the past.
“This could raise questions over whether these disappointing figures are even accurate”, he added.
As reported by 24housing just yesterday (12th February), Khan’s affordable housing programme has come under fire for the “painfully slow” rate at which houses and flats funded by City Hall are being built.
Figures obtained by the London Assembly Tories show that by the end of last year just 12,294 of the 34,515 homes started since the Mayor came to power in May 2016 had been completed.
Rory Stewart, the former Conservative government minister standing as an independent candidate in this year’s London mayoral election, said: “Having promised to build more than 100,000 affordable homes, today’s figures show he has managed less than a quarter of that.
“At the current rate, it will take Sadiq Khan more than 20 years to achieve what he promised to do in four.
“Our city won’t thrive if Londoners can’t afford to live here. We urgently need more homes to be built. We need less politics, more action.”
He yesterday launched his own plan for the capital if he were to be elected to City Hall in May, promising London’s biggest affordable housing programme “in more than a generation” with 250,000 new homes built over the next five years.
From the sector, Tom Slingsby, CEO of developer Southern Grove, said the provision of affordable homes in London was “collapsing before our eyes and needs to be urgently addressed.
“The latest update to the statistics for the fourth quarter of 2019 shows that London is on course to see 5,637 affordable homes completed come the end of March this year.
“This would be a significant fall on the 7,544 completed in the year to March 2019. It’s easy to blame a crisis of confidence thanks to so much political turmoil, but the need for greater cooperation between planners and house builders in the capital should not be underestimated.”
However, announcing the latest numbers, Khan said: “Delivering the genuinely affordable homes that Londoners so desperately need has been one of my top priorities over the last four years.
“Therefore, I’m delighted that today’s stats show we’re firmly on track to deliver our ambitious target of starting 17,000 genuinely affordable homes this year.”
Labour’s London Assembly Housing Spokesperson, Unmesh Desai AM added: “These figures show that with the right political will, we can slowly begin to turn the tide on the housing crisis.
“This is vital for all those Londoners trapped in temporary accommodation, stuck on housing waiting lists, or grappling with unaffordable rents in the private sector.
“Whilst City Hall is delivering record numbers of genuinely affordable homes and kickstarting a new generation of council homes, its ambition to go further is being held back by the Government’s failure to grapple with its own failed legacy on housing.
“Finally putting an end to polices such as the Right to Buy and Permitted Development would be a positive start.
“After 2011, we saw yearly funding for social and affordable housing in London cut by a staggering 90%.
“Whilst the Mayor has made progress by striking an improved deal with Ministers, the Government continues to short change Londoners and grossly underfund City Hall’s efforts to meet affordable housing demand by a factor of seven.
“It’s time to level-up housing in the capital with the rest of the country.”