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Mayor Calls for £5bn Investment

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, has called upon the Government to agree to a multi-million-pound package to kick-start the housing sector in London in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Khan has called for builders, councils, housing associations and unions to come together to come together to demand an emergency £5 billion investment package to help keep London building, protect construction jobs in the capital and increase the supply of new social homes.

On Monday (July 6th 2020), the UK Government heeded the Mayor’s call for the current affordable housing programme to be extended. Now the Mayor is asking ministers to commit a further £4.9 billion a year to build the council, social, and other genuinely affordable housing London needs from 2023 onwards.

The ‘COVID-19 Housing Delivery Taskforce’, convened by Deputy Mayor for Housing, Tom Copley, has outlined its demands for the recovery package in order to mee the massive housing needs in the UK’s largest city. The funding would also be used to support two key policies: a ‘buyer of last resort’ scheme and a tenure conversions programme.

The £3.5 billion ‘buyer of last resort’ scheme would allow councils and housing associations to buy unsold private homes at cost price and turn them into social housing is a buyer can’t be found on the open market. This would also guarantee the delivery of up to 9.200 homes between 2020 and 2022. Councils and housing associations would then be involved in the scheme from the start, ensuring eligible homes meet the quality standards expected from a council, social or affordable home.

The £1.33 billions tenure conversions programme would safeguard and accelerate London’s affordable homes programme, and, would convert housing that is currently planned for low-cost ownership and sale into homes for social and low cost rent. This will enable the Mayor, councils and housing association partners to continue to build in the current challenging circumstances the nation is facing, as well as delivering more homes for social rent than any other time in at least a decade.

These schemes would allow councils, housing associations and private developers to maintain housing delivery during the current period of market uncertainty as well as helping to address the longstanding backlog in housing supply which has built up over many years in London. Safeguarding construction will also protect jobs ahead of the Government’s furlough scheme being wound down later this year.

Mr Khan said: “The Government’s economic statement tomorrow is a chance for the Chancellor to put building new homes at the heart of a plan to kick-start the recovery. The whole of London’s government and housing sector stands ready to play a central role in supporting the recovery, not just of the capital but the whole country, if the Chancellor will gives us the resources we need.

“But I want London’s housing sector to do more than just bounce back, I want us to emerge from this crisis with a greater resolve to deliver the council, social and other genuinely affordable homes that London so desperately needs and to protect construction jobs. This investment package would help make that a reality.

“The work of London’s Covid-19 Housing Delivery Taskforce has shown the broad support across business, trades unions and the housing sector for greater Government backing for new genuinely affordable homes.

“Ministers now have a unique opportunity to help address the issues of housing supply and affordability whilst also underpinning London’s economic recovery by supporting tens of thousands of jobs and training opportunities at a time when the housing market is in jeopardy.”

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