Housing

Sadiq Khan smashes council house building target as London builds double the rest of England

London Mayor Khan claims to have started 10,000 council homes in 2022/23, more than double the 4,325 started across England in the last annual count

London Mayor Sadiq Khan

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he's a year ahead of schedule in building council homes across London. Image: Greater London Authority / Caroline Teo

Sadiq Khan has challenged the government to follow his lead on building council houses after claiming London has built more than double the amount of council homes started in the rest of England.

The London Mayor revealed City Hall has funded 10,000 new council house starts across the English capital in 2022/23. That works out at more than double the 4,325 council house starts across the rest of England in 2021/22 – the last time official figures were available.

Khan set a target of building 10,000 council homes in four years back in 2018. He hit that figure by March 2022 and pledged to double it by 2024, but he now claims to have reached that figure a year early with 23,000 council homes started across London over the last five years.

“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,” said Khan, who added that growing up in a council house in Tooting gave him “the best possible start in life”.

“The fact that the latest available figures show that only 4,325 council homes were started over a year in the rest of England is a national scandal. Council house building has essentially come to a halt, which is why I’m calling on ministers to urgently set up a new government fund exclusively committed to funding new council homes across the country.”

Social housing stock has fallen in recent decades due to a lack of building and the loss of homes through the Right to Buy scheme which were then not replaced.

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More than 200,000 social rent homes – the most affordable tenure – have been lost in the last decade, according to research published by the Chartered Institute of Housing in March.

That has seen households forced into the private rented sector instead, with demand driving up rents to record highs.

City Hall analysis found 65,000 new council homes would be available in England if the rest of the country built at the same rate as London.

Dr Tom Kerridge, policy and research manager at youth homelessness charity Centrepoint, said Khan’s housebuilding figures were “encouraging” but more homes were needed to tackle the housing crisis.

“We’re still nowhere near the level of housebuilding needed to end the housing crisis,” he said, stressing that “too many vulnerable people end up in”unaffordable, low-quality private rented sector housing” in the cost of living crisis.

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“There are no easy solutions to the housing crisis but too often a lack of ambition wins the day,” he continued.”We need to see serious targets for social homes from central government – but we also need the space to think creatively and to innovate on things like planning to ensure we’re building the right type of home in the right places for those who need it.” 

Last week housing minister Rachael Maclean told MPs at the Levelling Up Committee upcoming planning reforms that are set to axe local housing targets would not see housing output plunge.

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A report from the planning and development consultancy Lichfields claimed 77,000 fewer homes would be built across England if the reforms came into force but Maclean promised a “detailed rebuttal”.

The government previously promised to build 300,000 homes per year but has never come close to hitting that mark.

“We’re very clear that we want to see those numbers of houses built,” Maclean told MPs. “The way that we will achieve that is by having local plans and making it quicker, easier, simpler, clearer for local authorities to get the local plans in place.”

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