Oral Update to the Mayor's Report (Supplementary) [1]

Session date: 
May 16, 2019
Question By: 
Andrew Boff
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Andrew Boff AM:  Mr Mayor, you have restated what was in your press release, that more homes were started at social rent levels than ever before.  How do your 3,991 compare to the 11,329 that were started in 2010/11, the 10,663 homes that were started in 2009/10, and the 7,439 that were started in 2008/09?


Oral Update to the Mayor's Report (Supplementary) [1]

Oral Update to the Mayor's Report (Supplementary) [1]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Control over London’s affordable housing budget was not devolved to the Mayor until 2012.  Homes started in 2010/11, the year mentioned by the Assembly Member, were funded by a far larger programme that the last Labour Government introduced and the previous Mayor had no control over.


Andrew Boff AM:  Mr Mayor, is that an argument for City Hall not having control of the affordable housing budget, if you are going to build less?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  It is an argument for the Government investing more in affordable housing.  The current Government is investing far less in affordable housing than any previous Government.  In the first three years of the first term of Boris Johnson [MP], the Labour Government’s money was being spent on affordable housing.  Since 2012, it has been your Government that has been investing or not in London.  It was also at the same time as devolution from the Homes and Communities Agency, accountable to Ministers, to a London from 2012 onwards.  Since the devolution in 2012, the largest numbers of homes started was last year [2018/19], the largest number of social homes started was last year [2018/19] and the largest number of council homes started was last year [2018/19].


Andrew Boff AM:  Why were you patting yourself on the back for achieving a record amount of investment from the Government? 


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  It is a record investment since devolution to London, during this Government’s time.  During the last Labour Government, in 2009/10, for example, the Government was spending more than twice what this Government is spending per year in London.  According to experts, we need to spend four times that to reach the level of affordable homes we need.


Andrew Boff AM:  OK.  Mr Mayor, of the figures that you published, the 14,544, which is once again on the very low levels on the targets you have agreed with Government in order to justify that record investment, how many of those are restarts or double‑counting?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I am not sure but whatever the restarts figures is, the deal with the Government is from 2015 until 2022.  If, in a previous year, the start was not completed, it goes within the 116,000 target set by the Government.  There is no benefit of, in your words, ‘double‑counting’.


Andrew Boff AM:  You do not know how many restarts?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  No, because the restarts from 2015/16 and 2016/17 are still counted toward the 116,000 target.  There is no benefit in double‑counting. 


Andrew Boff AM:  You claim to have met your minimum target in 2018/19 by around 500 homes.  Can you explain why 500 homes have now disappeared from the previous figure for 2016/17?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  If that is the case it is because they did not complete the term of the contract, but there are two safeguards we have.  One is a clawback mechanism.  If, by 2022, the houses have not completed their starts, we can claw back the grant.  The second is that you cannot double‑count them within the 116,000 because the Government would rule them out.  There is an audit process and an accounting process in alignment with Government.  The good news is that there are various checks in place to avoid what you call double‑counting.


Andrew Boff AM:  Last time you declared figures about 10% of the starts that you claimed, the 12,000‑odd starts, were restarted and double‑counted into the figures.  Do you anticipate a similar figure, about 10%, for this 14,544?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I expect for 2015/16 and 2016/17 there may well be some starts that were not completed, but I would not expect there to be many, if any, starts not completed from 2017/18 or 2018/19.  The good news is that the Government will not give us the benefit of double‑counting.  The 116,000 takes into account these two years as well.  You cannot benefit from your so‑called double‑counting.


Andrew Boff AM:  You can in terms of meeting an annual target.  You certainly can, by shifting it from one year to the next, which is what I suspect you have done.  Are you concerned that three years into a programme and with only three years to go, only 30% of those new homes have been started?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  The main reason is because of the bad years in the first two years of the programme, when the other guy was in charge.  2015/16 and 2016/17 were bad years.  Roughly speaking, there were 7,000 starts in each of those years.  There was a big, steep increase in 2017/18 and an even bigger increase in 2018/19.  We will make up the ground lost in the first two years under the previous Mayor.


Andrew Boff AM:  You agreed the 116,000 figure with the Government, did you not?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  The Government included the two years under the previous Mayor.


Andrew Boff AM:  But you agreed that 116,000 figure, saying you were going to deliver that.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Which included the first two years under the previous Mayor.  That is one the reasons why we agreed with the Government to have targets that go up each year.  For example, in 2017/18 the target was 12,500, a big increase from the 7,000 under the previous Mayor.  Last year [2018/19] the target was even steeper, 14,000, and in the coming year the target is 17,000.  The Government realised that there had been a lack of progress, I think, in the first two years of the programme under the previous Mayor, which is why each year there is going to be a steep increase.


Andrew Boff AM:  OK.  Thank you, Mr Mayor.


Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  Thank you.