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The Curse of Khan? The Affordable Housing Gap


Opinion – Russell Quirk

The results are in. Sadiq Khan has retained the London Mayoralty and will serve a second term – albeit a three year stint as his previous tenure was extended due to the 2020 elections being postponed.

This website is not political. We do not advance a ‘Tory’ or a ‘Labour’ view – we merely wish to advise and support home buyers and sellers on the housing market. And we use facts to do so.

We aim to help you navigate the property market’s foibles, traps and idiosyncrasies. You might argue that housing IS political? After all, it does seem to be a battle ground upon which many politicians fight in that announcement after announcement and policy after policy are wielded like broadswords in incessant attempts to convince the media and therefore the public that they understand the many housing issues that face the UK.

One of these issues, a contender for the top spot of all challenges, is that of supply of homes. In other words the number of new dwellings built each year. This number of new builds has fallen short of the target figure that conventional wisdom says is needed, every year since the 1950’s.

Many would also argue (we would) that the lack of AFFORDABLE housing is a scandal. Whatever tenure of ‘affordable’ you cite – social rent, shared ownership, council housing etc – they are all but mere afterthoughts now that the provision of such is confined to housing associations that in our opinion seem more fixated on building homes for profit than supplying affordable houses and flats in the right places.

London, a city of 8 million people, is always in the cross-hairs as under supplied and which is why successive Mayoral candidates have wheeled in ‘housing policy’ as a large part of their ordnance. Unfortunately, having re-elected Sadiq Khan, it’s our fear that the capital will now suffer an even greater deficit in affordable housing and, in those next three years, we can place a number on the shortage that, statistically speaking, London is likely to befall.

Sadiq Khan pledged in his election campaign of 2016 to facilitate 65,000 new homes per year – half of them affordable. So, 32,500 in each of his four years. That was his own target – self-imposed if you will. The outcome however is a far from impressive one in that he has delivered on precisely 7634 per year of his five year term. That’s just 22% of what he promised.

In contrast, and we make this comparison only because it’s the equivalent performance of his predecessor regardless of party colour, Boris Johnson’s Mayoralty oversaw 13,100 affordable homes delivered each year of his term on average. That’s 76% MORE than Sadiq.

By the way, as his defence, Sadiq Khan peddles the myth of housing ‘starts’ as his great success. The number that were ‘conceived’ in a meeting room, pretty much. However, we’ve never seen anyone actually living in a housing ‘start’. Only completed ones. Completions count.

So to the maths. Sadiq Khan’s next three years are likely to follow type and to deliver just 22,900 affordable homes against the typical Johnson three year output of 39,300. That’s a potential shortage of 16,400 properties by comparison. This may mean 16,400 families that are deprived of a proper home unnecessarily.

London has voted, and that’s fine. You pays your money and you makes your choice. But the voters’ responsibility is their own where the lack of London affordable housing is concerned – because that shortage is now bound to continue for a while.

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