November 23, 2012 4:01 pm

London mayor falls short on housing pledge

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The building of affordable houses in London has slowed sharply since London mayor Boris Johnson took responsibility for it six months ago, according to data.

Construction began on just 425 affordable homes in the capital in the six months from April to September, less than a 10th of last year’s total, figures from the Greater London Authority show.

A spokeswoman for the mayor said that more building starts were expected in the second half of the year, but added that there was no annual target. The mayor was still on track to deliver his election promise of 55,000 new affordable homes by 2015, she said.

“The affordable homes programme is still a relatively new programme and in this first full year of delivery, we have been focused on getting providers into contracts,” she added.

In only two councils – Croydon and Hackney – were there more than 100 affordable homes started in the past six months. Last year’s biggest builders, Barking and Dagenham, and Greenwich, had no new starts at all.

Developers blamed the slide in the number of new affordable homes on government funding cuts and on changes to the planning system, which have given communities greater scope to object to construction.

Keith Exford, chair of the G15 group of London-based housing associations, said: “The introduction of a completely new funding regime and the time needed for local authorities to get to grips with the policy implications have obviously had an impact.”

Len Duvall, leader of the Labour group on the London Assembly, said the capital was experiencing “the slow death of truly affordable housing”.

“These figures show the impact of the government’s 70 per cent cut to London’s affordable housing budget and the mayor’s inability to get the new, much more limited, programme up and running,” he said.

“With over 360,000 households on council waiting lists, huge overcrowding problems and a cost-of-living crisis hitting families and the vulnerable, the mayor’s policies and record are a complete disgrace. Poorer Londoners are being forced to the outskirts of the city. We are heading the way of Paris, with high concentrations of deprivation.”

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