'Disappointing "new deal" if no new money available for affordable homes' - London Councils responds to the prime minister's speech

  • By JackGraves

Cllr Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ Executive Member for Housing & Planning, said:

“The prime minister is right that investment in housing and infrastructure is crucial to economic recovery. London boroughs certainly support his ambitions to ‘build build build’, as London suffers from a chronic shortage of affordable housing and is facing the most severe homelessness crisis in the country.

“However, we’re concerned by the confusion over plans for the affordable housing budget. It would be an extremely disappointing sort of ‘new deal’ that doesn’t bring any new money for affordable homes – or even reduces the budget altogether. Boroughs will need clarity over the government’s intentions.

“We’re also wary of any sweeping changes to planning law, which plays a vital role in creating safe, clean and attractive neighbourhoods while ensuring local accountability and protecting communities’ interests. It is clear that planning regulations are not responsible for the undersupply of housing. London boroughs grant around 50,000 planning approvals each year and there are approximately 266,000 new homes in the capital's development pipeline.

“London boroughs have long called for a major housebuilding boost and want a greater role in making that happen, but today’s speech hasn’t given us what we need.”

There are currently 243,000 London households on council housing waiting lists. Over 58,000 homeless households are placed in temporary accommodation by London boroughs. The capital accounts for two-thirds of homelessness in England. 

To address the chronic shortage of affordable housing in the capital, London Councils is seeking improved support for council housebuilding. This requires an end to all national restrictions on the use of Right to Buy receipts, so that every penny raised from council house sales can be reinvested in replacements, and confirmation of long-term social rent levels.

London’s council housing stock is under considerable pressure. 287,000 London council houses have been sold through Right to Buy since the policy’s introduction in 1980. In 2016-17, 3,138 council homes were sold in London and only 1,445 replaced.