Row over City Hall’s affordable homes record after just three new starts in two months

Shaun Bailey slams Sadiq Khan’s recent record but the mayor’s office has hit back to call it “utter nonsense” and blame government, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Shaun Bailey AM (inset) wants more affordable homes built by City Hall
Shaun Bailey AM (inset) wants more affordable homes built by City Hall

Sadiq Khan has been criticised for work starting on just three new City Hall-funded affordable homes in recent months – but a source close to the mayor branded the attack “utter nonsense”.

Shaun Bailey – Khan’s Tory opponent at the last mayoral election, now titled Lord Bailey – said the latest London housing statistics showed the mayor is “more interested in building his profile than building homes”.

But City Hall sources hit back, saying that the government had delayed signing off funding for a new affordable homes programme.

The fact that work was started on just three new City Hall-funded affordable homes – one in Bexley and two in Hillingdon – between April and June this year, was revealed in data published on Tuesday (15th).

In the months immediately before that period, Khan achieved a government-set target of work having started on some 116,000 new homes, as part of a £4.8bn affordable homes programme which concluded in the spring of this year.

A second programme, worth £4bn, was announced by ministers in 2020. It was originally planned to be in place from 2021 until 2026, with a target of delivering 35,000 homes. So far however, zero homes have been started under that programme.

The three affordable homes started between April and June were funded through separate mayoral schemes.

Lord Bailey, a member of the London Assembly, said: “Sadiq Khan has fallen years behind the latest housing targets and is failing to deliver the affordable, family homes that Londoners need.

“He has started only three affordable homes this quarter and zero under the current £4bn programme.

“We cannot go on like this, with a mayor more interested in building his profile than building homes. London deserves so much better.”

A source close to the mayor dubbed the Conservative assembly member’s claims “complete and utter nonsense”. They said: “The government delayed signing off on funding for the mayor’s 2021-26 affordable homes programme until July, so it was impossible for any new homes to be started in the first quarter of this financial year.

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“This is completely the fault of ministers who appear to want to strangle housebuilding in London and shows once again London Tories prefer playing politics to addressing Londoners’ needs.

“Under Sadiq, the building of genuinely affordable homes in London has hit the highest overall level since records began and council house-building last year was higher than at any time since the 1970s.

“This unnecessary government delay is deeply disappointing given the mayor’s success in delivering a record-breaking 116,782 homes under the previous affordable homes programme.”

City Hall sources alleged that a dispute between the Treasury and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), meant City Hall was prevented from signing contracts with developers as part of the 2021-26 programme. By the time the row had been resolved, costs were said to have risen, and the programme was in need of being “re-profiled” – with the target of 35,000 homes reduced – before being signed off by Housing Secretary Michael Gove.

A government source said the final proposal for revisions to programme’s targets came from City Hall in May.

A DLUHC spokesperson said: “There are no targets for individual quarters for homes funded through the 2021-26 affordable homes programme, so low delivery in a particular quarter does not mean there is a risk of missing overall targets.

“The government has allocated £4billion to the Greater London Authority [GLA] to deliver much needed affordable housing in the capital, and our support contributed to the delivery of more than 131,700 new affordable homes in the capital between 2010 and 2022.

“We expect the GLA to get on and build the homes the Londoners desperately need and deserve.”

Last week, City Hall warned that high interest rates and building cost inflation were contributing to a major drop in housebuilding schemes being submitted for planning permission.

Between April and June this year, there was a 41% decline in the number of homes on major planning applications referred to the mayor compared to the same period in 2022, and a 53% reduction compared to 2021. In a letter to Gove, Khan requested additional funding of at least £2.2bn from the government, which he said was needed to boost London’s affordable housing delivery, create jobs and safeguard supply chains.

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