BARRATT HOLMES, our house-price-bubble-might-be-about-to-burst correspondent, reports on the suggestion that City Hall might have been massaging the house-building figures
A London Assembly report says that the Greater London Authority, under Mayor Sadiq Khan, only just hit its target for the number of affordable homes built in the capital in the last year, leading to accusations that the GLA is “cooking the books” on house-building.
Those London-wide figures won’t have been helped by Croydon’s Labour-run council’s contribution. Or lack of it. Since 2015, when they set up their public-funded house-building company to build on public-owned property, the firm, Brick by Brick, has managed to complete precisely ZERO new homes.
The London Assembly’s Affordable Housing Monitor relies on build starts for its data, so the figures reported last month will have included some from Croydon. Across the capital, a total of 12,555 affordable homes were started between April 2017 and March 2018. Mayor Khan’s target is for between 12,500 and 16,500 build starts per year.
In 2016-2017, and therefore under the previous Mayoral administration of Boris Johnson, just 8,935 homes were started in the whole of London.
At a meeting of the London Assembly housing committee at the end of last month, politicians from across the spectrum grilled the GLA on the extent to which the Mayor has delivered on his affordable housing promises.
The report showed “the mayor is letting down Londoners”, said Sian Berry, the Green Party AM who chairs the housing committee.
“He promised us more affordable housing, but so far has fallen very short of his promises, particularly on social housing, which is our greatest need,” she said.
“There has been an increase in the overall delivery of homes, but the need has also gone up. So the delivery as a proportion of need is lower than it’s ever been.”
Andrew Boff, the Conservatives’ leader in the Assembly, claimed that some of the housing starts included in the figures were in fact “restarts” – stalled projects that had also been counted as starts in previous years.
“If you take out the restarts from the previous year, the Mayor missed his own targets,” Boff said.
“It looks like cooking the books.”
This was denied by David Lunts, executive director of housing and land at the GLA, and James Murray, the deputy mayor for housing.
Murray visited Brick by Brick’s sites in Croydon in the summer when he is believed to have promised his Labour colleagues additional funding from the Mayor towards future schemes in the borough, to help dig themselves out of the various holes of Brick by Brick’s creation.
At the City Hall hearing, Murray blamed the lack of progess across London on the previous (Tory) administration at City Hall and the (Tory) government at Westminster. Well he would, wouldn’t he?
He criticised the government for failing to provide enough funding for the GLA to facilitate housing of all tenures. According to Murray’s estimate, the GLA needs a £2.4billion pot, but is working with £700million.
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