1619 new affordable homes were started by City Hall in Greenwich and Lewisham between April 2019 and March 2020, according to new figures from the Greater London Authority (GLA). Across London, this number exceeded 17,000, marking the highest number since records began in 2002/03. Local London Assembly Member, Len Duvall AM, welcomed these figures as “very promising”, but warned of the “big obstacles that lie ahead” for affordable housing delivery due to the Covid-19 outbreak, in the absence of adequate Government support and funding
The latest stats also reveal that 196% more affordable homes were started in Greenwich over this time and 39% more affordable homes were started in Lewisham, compared to the same period during the previous year. The Mayor of London’s Housing Strategy plans for a year-on-year exponential increase in housing starts between 2017 and 2022.
39% in Greenwich and 64% in Lewisham of these newly started homes will be offered at social rent or London Affordable Rent (LAR) on completion, with the remainder at other affordable rates and tenures such as London Living Rent and Shared Ownership.
Mr Duvall is also raising concerns about the Government’s plans to instruct local authorities to allow developers to defer affordable housing and infrastructure payments during the Covid-19 outbreak.
In the wake of the significant challenges being faced by housing market and construction industry, he is urging the Government to properly fund the Greater London Authority’s affordable housing programme as a matter of priority.
The Mayor of London has secured £4.8 billion of funding so far from the Government to support affordable housing projects in London. However, a report released by the GLA in June 2019, revealed that to meet the scale of housing demand in the capital, Government investment in this area would need to increase seven-fold.
According to analysis from the Resolution Foundation, Central Government funding for affordable housing has dropped across the last decade. After 2011, the national budget for social housing was reduced from £8.4bn for 3 years, to £4.5bn for 4 years. London’s allocation of funding was also significantly reduced, from £3.72 billion between 2008 and 2011 (£1.24 billion per year) to just £627 million from 2011-2015 (£157 million a year), representing an almost 90% reduction in yearly funding for all kinds of social and affordable housing.
Local London Assembly Member, Len Duvall AM, said:
“These new record-breaking figures are very promising, and show that City Hall is making strong progress in its efforts to turn the tide on our housing crisis.
“The Covid-19 outbreak has thrown our need for more genuinely affordable homes into even sharper relief, with too many in our community facing lockdown in wholly inadequate overcrowded or temporary accommodation, having to pay exorbitant rents, or whilst left out on our streets.
“Big obstacles lie ahead for our housing market and construction industry. As we begin to come out of the first wave of this pandemic, we need to be able to rely on the Government to make the right strategic choices about how we rebuild our society.
“This is why I am urging the Government to seize the initiative and properly invest in City Hall’s affordable housing schemes, which are still underfunded seven times over. Since 2016, City Hall has proved year after year that it is best placed to get to grips with the housing crisis, even in the midst of turmoil and uncertainty”.