Sadiq Khan accused of misleading public on affordable housing figures

London Mayor Sadiq Khan delivers his speech during the 'From Climate Crisis to Climate Resilience' a three-day summit organised by The Pontifical Academy of Sciences at The Vatican
London Mayor Sadiq Khan delivers his speech during the 'From Climate Crisis to Climate Resilience' a three-day summit organised by The Pontifical Academy of Sciences at The Vatican - Gregorio Borgia/AP

Sadiq Khan has been reported to the statistics watchdog for allegedly “misleading” the public over how many houses he has built in London, The Telegraph can reveal.

The Conservative group in City Hall accused the capital’s Labour Mayor of being “highly disingenuous” for claiming to have “delivered” 25,000 affordable homes “in the last year alone” when many of them had been started but not completed.

At the start of this month, Mr Khan was re-elected to City Hall for an unprecedented third term after beating Susan Hall, his Tory rival.

In March, during the mayoral election campaign, he wrote an article in which he trumpeted his housing record, claiming there had been “a record-breaking 25,000 genuinely affordable homes delivered in the last year alone”.

However, statistics published last week showed that the number of affordable homes started in London in the year to March 31 had plunged to 3,244 – the lowest number since at least 2008-9, when records began.

While the figure exceeded 25,000 in 2022-23, critics pointed out that this related to housing starts rather than homes delivered, with many projects years away from completion.

In other cases, existing homes have been demolished to make way for new ones, with the Mayor accused of failing to offset the figures in his claims.

The Tory City Hall group has written to Sir Ian Diamond, the chief executive of the UK Statistics Authority, asking him to adjudicate on whether Mr Khan has misused the statistics.

The letter, written by Lord Bailey, the Tories’ housing spokesman, says: “I am writing in regard to the Mayor of London’s use of housing statistics and the possibility that these figures are materially misleading to the general public.

“The Mayor has routinely claimed that he has ‘delivered’ 25,000 affordable homes in the last year alone’. Adverts across Transport for London’s estate, authorised by the Mayor of London, proudly suggests the capital is in a ‘golden era’ of homebuilding.”

The letter points out that the 3,244 starts in 2023-24 represent an “88 per cent drop compared to 2022-23, when 27,824 affordable homes were started – not completed”.

It adds: “We would, therefore, question whether the Mayor’s claim that 25,000 homes have been ‘delivered’ in the ‘last year alone’ is materially misleading.

“Even if referring to figures from 2022-23, an individual cannot live in a ‘start’, and a home has not been ‘delivered’ if it is still being built. In some circumstances, a ‘start’ may be counted before a single brick has been laid.

“We believe this, combined with such a sharp drop in the number of new affordable homes in London actually completed, makes the Mayor’s claim that we are in a ‘golden era’ of housebuilding highly disingenuous.

“Given the real need to build more genuinely affordable homes and give Londoners the best possible chance of getting on the housing ladder, we believe the Mayor’s presentation of the figures in this way is unhelpful at best, and fundamentally misleading to the public at worst.

“We would welcome your comments on whether the presentation of housing statistics in this way, including in publicly funded advertisements, could be considered as misleading.”

A spokesman for Mr Khan said: “This is hypocritical nonsense from Lord Bailey, given that he has used exactly the same commonplace terminology about house-building that he is now complaining about.

“The 25,000 genuinely affordable homes statistic refers to the published affordable housing statistics for the year 2022-23. Since Sadiq was first elected in 2016, overall housing completions in London have consistently outpaced the rest of the country, with council house-building in the capital hitting levels not seen since the 1970s.

“The Mayor has set a country-leading ambition of completing 40,000 council homes by the end of the decade, whilst his Housing Kickstart Fund will help convert stalled development projects into genuinely affordable homes for Londoners.

“Now ministers must match the Mayor’s ambition and invest in the homes Londoners desperately need as he builds a better, fairer and more prosperous city for all.”