Housing

Sadiq Khan pledge to build 40,000 new council homes in London hailed as 'big step forward'

Sadiq Khan has promised to build more than 40,000 new London council homes by the end of the decade if he is re-elected as Mayor of London.

Sadiq Khan is vying for reelection as the Mayor of London. Credit: Greater London Authority.

Sadiq Khan has promised to build more than 40,000 new council homes in London by the end of the decade if he is re-elected as mayor.

The Labour politician promised the “greatest council homebuilding drive in a generation”, doubling his previous commitment to build 20,000 affordable homes between 2018 and 2030.

“The housing crisis has been decades in the making. But, with political will, it can be overcome,” Khan is expected to say at a campaign launch today.

“Working together with a new Labour government, I know we can go even further. Quickening the pace, building on the progress we’ve made and unleashing the greatest council housebuilding drive in a generation.”

In 2016-17, building commenced on 7,500 affordable homes. This increased to 25,000 in 2022-23. Over the same period, completions rose from 5,000 to 14,000.

Campaigners have welcomed the pledge, with the London Renters Union describing it as a “BIG step forward”.

“Council homes pay for themselves and give us the security we are too often denied renting privately,” a spokesperson said. “We need politicians across the board to put public housing first.”

The Chartered Institute of Housing echoed this call for bipartisan action.

“CIH has long called on current and future political leaders to commit to a long-term plan for housing which puts social housing at the heart,” said James Prestwich, CIH director of policy and external affairs.

“We therefore welcome any pledge to deliver on more social (including council) house building, which will help provide more people with an affordable quality home.”

The housebuilding promise is the first major pledge of Khan’s re-election campaign, as he aims to secure a third term in office when voters go to the polls on 2 May.

How bad is London’s housing crisis?

There were 323,827 households on local authority waiting lists in London in 2023, data released by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government last month reveals.

As the housing crisis mounts, both Labour and the Tories have accused each other of failing the capital’s residents.

At today’s launch, Sadiq Khan accused the national Tory government of “trying to drag London backwards,” speculating on what a Labour general election victory would mean for the city.

“A Labour government would be transformative, propelling us forwards and helping to accelerate delivery of the homes Londoners desperately need and deserve,” he said.

The Conservatives, for their part, have accused City Hall of failing people living in London.

Today, housing secretary Michael Gove launched a probe into Khan’s housing strategy, announcing a partial review of the London Plan, the mayor’s blueprint for development in the capital. The Greater London Authority will produce its findings in September.

“Londoners are being let down by the mayor’s chronic under delivery of new homes in the capital,” Gove said.

Currently an average of 37,200 new homes are delivered each year. Gove wants this to increase to 62,300 – but differs from Khan on the proportion of new homes that should be affordable housing.

In December, the housing secretary accused Khan of being too focused on implementing affordable home targets, stalling overall delivery. Khan aims for 50% of new homes to be affordable housing.

Almost one in 50 Londoners are living in temporary accommodation.

At today’s launch, Sadiq Khan also warned that the 2 May contest – where he will stand against Conservative rival Susan Hall – will be the “closest ever.”

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