But completions total among highest in recent years

The G15 group of housing associations in London began work last year on the lowest number of homes since they started publishing combined data five years ago, figures reveal.

Members of the group started work on 10,951 homes in 2020/21, a 30% drop on the 15,709 started in 2019/20 and lower than in any year since 2015/16. A G15 spokesperson said, however, that G15 members are forecasting a record number of 17,000 starts in 2021/22 as delayed work gets under way. The numbers include developments built by the group outside the capital as well as in London.

Completions, by contrast, appear to have stood up well in the face of the covid-19 lockdown. Members matched their total number of completed homes in 2019/20, with 11,056 homes handed over. This figure was also higher than for the three financial years between 2015 and 2018, only bettered by the 13,356 reported in 2018/19.

Geeta Nanda, chair of the G15 and chief executive of housing association Metropolitan Thames Valley, said: “The last 18 months have been some of the hardest I can ever recall, especially with the initial site shutdowns that were required, and the challenges social distancing presented on construction sites.”

“With that in mind, to have delivered the second-largest number of new homes in any year since 2015/16 is testimony to the hard work and commitment of our colleagues and partners.” Nanda added, however, that associations are seeing some challenges from shortages of labour and materials, which are contributing to rising construction costs.

She said: “We will continue to work with our contractors and suppliers to mitigate these risks as far as possible, but they do point to longer-term issues that will need addressing, such as ensuring we are training and bringing new people into the construction [sector] at a steady rate.”

Nanda also told Housing Today earlier this month that rising costs, including from building safety and decarbonisation, have led to a reduction in development ambitions among the group’s members.

>>See also: How will developing housing associations cope with extra costs?

G15 member L&Q, one of the biggest builders of social housing in the UK, last week abandoned its long-stated target of building 100,000 homes and is now instead focused on building out 32,000 homes over 10 years.

Nanda said G15 members are still set to build 120,000 homes over 10 years. This contrasts with 2018, when the G15 said it was planning to deliver 180,000 homes by 2025. 

G15 members

The G15 says its members house one in 10 Londoners and are the biggest providers of affordable homes in the capital. They are:

  • A2 Dominion
  • Catalyst
  • Clarion
  • Hyde
  • L&Q
  • Metropolitan Thames Valley
  • Network Homes
  • Notting Hill Genesis
  • One Housing
  • Optivo
  • Peabody 
  • Southern Housing Group