London Mayor celebrates hitting government target for affordable homes

Over the last seven years, construction work has started on enough affordable London homes to house a city the size of Plymouth

By Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Construction in Newham funded by City Hall (Credit: LDRS)

London Mayor Sadiq Khan celebrated hitting the government’s target for affordable housing this week, after work started on a record-breaking 25,658 affordable properties in the last year.

In 2016, he was tasked by the national government with ensuring that work started on 116,000 new affordable homes by April last year, before the deadline was extended to this April due to the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown.

To support this goal, the government gave City Hall around £4.82billion to fund new affordable homes across the city.

However, Shaun Bailey, housing spokesperson for City Hall Conservatives, insisted that Mayor Khan had “failed to deliver the affordable, family homes that Londoners need”, instead “building tower blocks people do not want in a desperate struggle to meet this target”.

Responding, Mayor Khan said: “I accept my political opponents are shedding a tear today, because we’ve smashed the targets set by their government.

“The reality is this: the government set the target in 2016, before Brexit, before the labour shortages, before the material shortages, before the pandemic, before interest rates went up because of government mismanagement, before construction inflation. But we’ve not just met the target, we’ve smashed it.”

The Mayor pointed out that he had already made meeting the target “harder for himself” by changing the definition of “affordable” housing in London. Under the city’s previous mayor, Boris Johnson, homes available to rent for up to 80% of market rates could be deemed “affordable” but Mayor Khan insisted “genuinely affordable” homes should cost around a third of the average gross household income in their area.

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The Mayor also insisted that not all of the new homes being built in London are in tower blocks, pointing to a new set of terraced council houses he visited in Stonebridge earlier this month.

Mr Bailey, who stood against Mr Khan as the Conservative candidate in the 2021 mayoral election, further criticised the fact that no progress has yet been made on the next round of the affordable homes programme, which began in 2021 and ends in 2026.

City Hall has been given a target of 35,000 homes started by 2026 but, two years since the scheme’s launch, no properties have yet been started as part of it.

Asked about progress on this next deadline, the Mayor said: “Judge me by my record – every target met I’ve smashed, and I’m sure the target set by the government up to 2026 we’ll smash as well.”

In a speech announcing his latest housebuilding targets on Monday, Mr Khan warned that the housing crisis remained a major threat to the city’s “soul”.

He said: “Even if young Londoners were to live Spartan-like lives, huge numbers would still struggle to eke out enough for a[…] serious deposit – not when the average deposit for a first-time buyer in London has recently been as high as £150,000.

“You could cut back on your standard Netflix subscription every month for the next thousand years, and it still wouldn’t be enough to raise that frankly absurd sum.

“So for those peddling the ridiculous notion that young people just need to stop complaining and start saving, my message is this: get real. As Mayor, I don’t want to see London become a playground for the rich. I’m determined to create a London for everybody.”

The 116,000 homes delivered over the last seven years is the equivalent number of homes as a city the size of Plymouth, City Hall said.

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