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London at “epicentre of housing crisis” as 250,000 families are on waiting lists

By Joe Talora, Local Democracy Reporter

There are currently around 250,000 Londoners on waiting lists for council homes as London Councils warns that the capital is the “epicentre of the housing crisis”.

New research from the Local Government Association (LGA) has found that council house waiting lists could double in size by next year as the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic continue to be felt.

The research also found that up to one in 10 households in need of housing are stuck on waiting lists for as long as five years due to a “chronic shortage” of affordable homes.

Responding to the LGA’s findings, the cross-party London Councils group, which represents local authorities across the capital, has called for central Government to use the upcoming Spending Review to “help us build the homes Londoners need”.

Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ executive member for housing and planning, said: “London is the epicentre of the housing crisis. The longstanding shortage of social housing in the capital has driven up pressures and is the fundamental factor behind London’s appalling homelessness rates.

“Boroughs are determined to turn this situation around, but for too long we’ve lacked the resources required to build housing at mass scale. Giving boroughs these resources is crucial for tackling homelessness and will be a major boost to the post-pandemic economic recovery. We’re urging ministers to listen to councils and use the Spending Review to help us deliver the homes Londoners need.”

In its submission to the Chancellor’s Spending Review, London Councils has called for more investment in the Affordable Homes Programme and complete flexibility over Right to Buy receipts so that money can be reinvested into building new homes.

In 2016, City Hall was granted £4.8 billion from the Government’s Affordable Homes Programme to start building 116,000 new affordable homes in London by 2023, 43,000 of which are still yet to be started.

The next round of funding from the programme will see around 30,000 new affordable homes started by 2026 from £3.4 billion of funding.

Despite criticism from City Hall Conservatives over the slow pace of delivery for new affordable homes, Sadiq Khan has said he has spearheaded a “renaissance” of council housebuilding in London, with more council homes started in 2019/20 than in any year since 1983.

Around 12,000 of the 30,000 homes to be started under the 2021-2026 Affordable Homes Programme will be built by councils in London.

Earlier this year, Sadiq Khan also announced the launch of the Right to Buy Back scheme, which would allow London councils to bid for funding from the Affordable Homes Programme to purchase back ex-council houses.

Following the findings of its research, the Local Government Association has called on central Government to provide local authorities with the funding and powers to deliver 100,000 new social rent homes a year to tackle the growing crisis.

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