London housing crisis: New war of words as Tories accuse Sadiq Khan over house building delivery

Sadiq Khan celebrated hitting the Government’s target of starting work on new affordable homes (PA Archive)
Sadiq Khan celebrated hitting the Government’s target of starting work on new affordable homes (PA Archive)

A row over housing erupted on Wednesday as a minister poured scorn on Sadiq Khan’s record on building in London.

Transport Minister Richard Holden claimed not enough homes were being built in the capital because of Labour policies.

This week the Mayor of London celebrated hitting the Government’s target of starting work on 116,000 new affordable homes by April 2023.

But figures show that just 58,936 of these properties were actually completed in the past seven years, an average of 8,419 a year.

The Tory party said that during Boris Johnson’s time in City Hall, 11,750 affordable homes were typically built in a year. Mr Holden told Times Radio: “In London, a key part of where a huge amount of pent-up demand is, what we’ve seen is a Labour mayor of London, backed up by a Labour London MP Keir Starmer in not delivering those targets, not delivering either the starts or the completion levels we saw when there was a Conservative mayor in London.”

Work has begun on a record 25,658 affordable properties in London in the last year, City Hall said. And Sir Keir Starmer on Wednesday pledged that a Labour government would build more homes in areas including the green belt to increase supply and bring down prices across the country.

In a speech to the British Chambers of Commerce in London he will argue that his party will make “tough choices but the right choices” when it comes to planning.

“At the moment, one of the reasons that house prices are so high is because people hold land, trying to ensure that it gains as much value as possible,” he said. “Developers and landowners actually have a vested interest in not building so many houses, because that keeps the price high. We want to change that model and make sure that many, many more houses are built, and that the price comes down. What we want is good-quality, secure houses, but also houses that people can afford.”

It comes as long-awaited plans to abolish no-fault evictions and give renters the right to keep pets were introduced in Parliament on Wednesday.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove said the sweeping reforms would allow tenants to challenge poor landlords without losing their home.

Landlords will also be given more powers to more easily evict anti-social tenants. Notice periods will be reduced where renters have been “irresponsible” — for example, by breaching their tenancy agreement or causing damage to the property. The Bill also seeks to make it illegal for landlords to impose bans on renting to benefit claimants or families with children.

The plans will affect two million landlords and 11 million tenants in England, including more than one million households in London.

However, critics argue that the laws are “long overdue” and the new Bill fails to protect tenants from rent hikes being used to circumvent the new rules.