London affordable homes programme slashed by up to 11,000 but City Hall says Government is at fault

Tom Copley
Image credit Greater London Authority

London’s latest affordable housing programme is expected to deliver up to a third fewer homes than originally planned, Sadiq Khan’s deputy has confirmed.

The current programme was due to run from 2021 until 2026, but no homes have been started under it so far.

The scheme is managed by City Hall, using £4bn of funding provided by the Government, and was originally intended to pay for 35,000 new affordable homes in the capital.

But at a Thursday meeting of the London Assembly, deputy mayor for housing Tom Copley said this figure has now been brought down to a range of between 23,900 and 27,200.

He said the delay in starting the programme had been caused by “frustrating delays” in signing contracts with housing associations and developers, resulting from a “pause” ordered by the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC).

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Mr Copley told the meeting: “We of course have been pushing the Government to top up the funding, to take us back to 35,000 [homes] and ideally, we would like even more funding than that, in order that we could support the sector to deliver at a scale which actually matches need.”

London would need an extra £2.2bn from the Government in order to restore the 35,000 target, the Assembly was told by Heather Juman, City Hall’s assistant director for housing and land.

The latest edition of the London Plan – the mayor’s development strategy for the city – states that the capital needs “66,000 new homes each year, for at least twenty years, and evidence suggests that 43,000 of them should be genuinely affordable if the needs of Londoners are to be met”.

Mr Copley suggested that “extremely unfavourable market conditions” had combined with former prime minister Liz Truss’s mini-budget in increasing the programme’s costs.

He said: “These macro-economic headwinds were felt particularly acutely after the September 2022 mini-budget, which landed in the untimely context of an economy already struggling with the impacts of Covid-19, the war in Ukraine and Brexit.”

The deputy mayor separately pointed to the impact of changing fire safety regulations, arising from the Grenfell Tower fire.

Mayor Khan wrote to the Government last month, accusing them of “dither and delay” over the implementation of new rules which dictate the need for a second staircase in tall buildings. He claimed that uncertainty over the specifics of the rules was holding back the development of tens of thousands of homes in the capital.

The Government did not respond to a request for comment at the time.

Approached for comment in August on the fact that no new homes have yet been started in London under the current affordable homes programme, a DLUHC spokesman said: “The Government has allocated £4bn 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.”

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