London mayor says capital is building again but completions lag well behind

The London mayor has hailed the achievement of hitting his target to start work on building 116,000 “genuinely affordable” homes since being elected in 2016.

Sadiq Khan said that work began on 25,658 affordable homes in the most recent financial year to March, bringing the total number started since the 2015-16 year to 116,782.

sadiq khan

The figure of 25,658 homes started in the last year is a huge increase on the number built in the last year of the Boris Johnson mayoralty, when just 7,189 homes meeting Khan’s definition of affordability were started on site.

Khan (pictured left) defines “genuinely affordable” homes as those built to a traditional social rent level, to the London Living Rent level set at a third of average local earnings, or the London Affordable Rent standard – but excludes those built to the government general Affordable Rent standard.

However, the press release issued to celebrate the achievement of the target did not mention the affordable housing completion figures, which continue to lag significantly behind starts. Greater London Authority data show that just 13,954 affordable homes were completed in the last year, albeit a significant increase on the 10,323 built the year previously.

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In addition, Khan, who has repeatedly called for more funding from government to address housebuilding in the capital, has struggled to prompt a significant increase in the overall level of housing delivered in London since being elected. The number of net additions has dropped since peaking at just over 40,000 in 2019/20, a long way below the London Plan target of 52,287 homes per annum, and less than half the 94,000 calculated as needed under the government’s standard method for calculating housing need.

In a speech to mark the achievement today, Khan was expected to say the housing crisis in the capital was a “brake on growth and a barrier to Londoners fulfilling their potential” and that it needed to be fixed to “safeguard the soul of our city”.

He said: “I’m proud to say: London is building again. In recent years, we’ve completed more homes of all types than at any time since the 1930s. While the Government has shamefully scrapped its own home-building targets, we’re busy meeting ours. In London, not only have we hit our target of starting 116,000 new genuinely affordable homes, we’ve exceeded it.

“I’ve always been honest with Londoners – that the housing crisis was decades in the making and it will take time to fix. It will be a marathon, not a sprint. But, thanks to the exercise of concerted political will, we’re moving in the right direction.”