Shelagh Fogarty 1pm - 4pm
Sadiq Khan was on track to miss affordable homes target even before coronavirus crisis
8 July 2020, 07:50 | Updated: 8 July 2020, 11:52
Sadiq Khan was on track to miss his target on building affordable homes in London even before the coronavirus crisis, LBC can reveal.
The Mayor was given a £4.82 billion government grant in 2016 to build 116,000 new affordable homes by 2022.
But Mr Khan asked for a 12-month extension to the programme due to the disruption caused by Covid-19. This was granted on Monday by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick.
However, figures analysed by LBC suggest that he was already on track to miss that target, and the Mayor has been accused of hiding his failure behind the coronavirus crisis.
Since 2015, which partly includes the end of Boris Johnson’s term as Mayor, 58,960 of the Mayor’s 116,000 target homes have been started.
That’s just over 50 per cent in approximately four years.
This leaves the remaining 57,040 to be built in the remaining two years.
The agreement with the Government sets minimum and maximum targets for the Mayor to hit in each year, but in each of the last 3 years, the Mr Khan only just reached his minimum target.
And yet to get to 116,000 affordable homes by 2022, he would have had to considerably exceed his maximum targets for the remaining two years.
The GLA Conservatives Housing Spokesman Andrew Boff said: “Sadiq Khan has been given a record amount of money, he should have been doing an awful lot more.
People’s housing need is getting worse, there are more families living in overcrowded conditions, and yet the Mayor just issues statement after statement about wanting more government investment.”
Indeed, just this week the Mayor has called for a further £5bn government cash injection to help build affordable homes in London from 2023 onwards.
But Mr Boff said: “More Government investment won’t solve London’s housing problems. What will solve London’s housing problems is having a Mayor who cares enough about the issue to spend the money that he’s already been allocated.”
In a written answer to an Assembly question from last month, Sadiq Khan claimed that the remaining 50 per cent of homes “are all in contract and due to be delivered across the remaining two years of the programme.”
But independent experts have cast doubt on the likelihood of this happening.
Rico Wojtulewicz, head of housing and planning policy at the National Federation of Builders, said: “It’s a real challenge. There are so many more ducks that need to be put in a row. For example, signed contracts aren’t delivered contracts, until shovels are in the ground and projects are completed, but even starting a project can be difficult.
"So is it realistic? I’m not sure it really is, but if the Mayor starts thinking about how homes are planned, started and physically delivered and works with the wider construction industry who have to surmount these challenges for a living, there’s every chance he’ll get close.”
A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “The Mayor is doing more than ever before to tackle the capital’s housing crisis and his affordable homes programme was on track to meet its target before the coronavirus outbreak: 17,256 affordable homes were started in the year to March 31, exceeding the target agreed with Government and breaking the Mayor’s own record.
"More genuinely affordable homes were started last year than at any time since GLA records began, including more than 7,000 at social rent levels – exceeding the number started in the previous Mayor’s entire second term.
“Sadiq is determined that London’s housing sector emerges from the coronavirus pandemic stronger than ever, which is why he is calling on the Government to match his ambition and agree a £5 billion housing investment package to keep London building, protect construction jobs and increase the supply of new social homes.”