Sadiq Khan celebrates after reaching target of 20,000 new council homes
Sadiq Khan is celebrating after reaching his target of work having started on 20,000 new council homes across the capital.
The Mayor of London had been working to achieve the milestone by a 2024 deadline, but revealed this week that he has already surpassed it, with some 23,000 started since 2018.
Mr Khan had set himself the goal five years ago of 10,000 new council home-starts by 2022, but after achieving that goal, he doubled his target to 20,000.
Though the Mayor does not directly oversee the building of council homes, he does provide funding for them to borough councils.
The Mayor said: “There’s no quick fix to London’s current housing crisis, but I’m hugely proud at the progress we’re making delivering a new era in council homebuilding in the capital.”
Mr Khan said only 4,325 council homes were started in the rest of England in 2021-2022 - the latest year for which data was available - which he called a “national scandal”.
He urged the Government to give councils across England funding exclusively to boost their number of council homes.
A Government spokeswoman claimed not to recognise City Hall’s figures, and pointed out that when looking at the wider category of affordable homes, about 43,000 such properties were started in England outside London in 2021/22, compared to about 20,000 in London.
She added: “We are committed to building more social homes and are investing £11.5bn through our Affordable Homes Programme (AHP) to deliver tens of thousands of homes for rent and sale across the country.”
Using AHP funding, Mr Khan had been aiming for 116,000 affordable home starts across London by March 2023 - but his deputy mayor, Tom Copley, admitted in October 2022 that this target looked "increasingly challenging". Mr Copley blamed inflation, interest rates and political turmoil.
Statistics showing whether the 116,000 target was achieved will be published on May 15.
Commenting on Mr Khan’s council homes announcement, Conservative London Assembly Member Andrew Boff said: “This is a case of Sadiq Khan marking his own homework.
“The target that matters is the one he had received from the government with a record amount of funding, and unfortunately he is 18,000 homes short of achieving this.”
Mr Boff’s figure is derived from statistics covering a period up to the end of 2022.
He added: “This invented target is just gaslighting Londoners, trying to confuse them and distract them from his failure to build the homes that young Londoners need."
Asked whether he had met the target of 116,000 affordable homes, Mr Khan said: “We’ll have to wait and see.
“What we do know is every year since the target was agreed, we’ve smashed the target. Every year, we’ve broken records.
“We’ve had huge challenges in relation to not just the consequences of Brexit, [but] huge challenges in relation to the pandemic, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, inflation, interest rates… so notwithstanding all that, we’ve thrown the kitchen sink at this.
“So we’ll have to see what the government announces on May 15. But everyone’s worked incredibly hard, the team at City Hall, developers, councils - and the only people hoping we don’t meet the target are my Conservative opponents.”
Mr Khan was speaking on a visit to Stonebridge in north-west London, where he met with a family who have recently moved into one of the new council homes.
“The family I’ve spoken to, they’ve been in temporary accommodation for more than 12 years - three generations of six people [who were] living in a two-bedroom, cramped flat,” said the Mayor.
“And now they’re living - because of the great work of Brent Council, working with City Hall - in a lovely four-bedroom home, which will transform their lives.”
Muhammed Butt, the Labour leader of Brent Council, said his authority had “provided more homes than any other council in the country last year and is also proudly the highest social housing builder in London”.
He added: "A safe and secure home is the foundation for people to build their lives upon, and we know three and four-bedroom homes are most in demand.
"That is why we are delighted to hand over an entire street of 22 four-bedroom council homes and 51 one, two and three-bedroom flats, all at social rent, to Brent families in Stonebridge.”
He added that the new development, visited by the Mayor on Wednesday, "will change the lives of more than 70 families for the better”.