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Sadiq Khan: Government housing tsar should live in social housing

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The government should appoint a social housing tenant as a national commissioner for social housing residents, according to the mayor of London Sadiq Khan (Lab).

Mr Khan told the London Assembly the new position, which the mayor first suggested in September 2017 in response to the Grenfell Tower fire, would help the government better respond to suggestions on social housing policy.

Mr Khan said: “I grew up on a council estate, so I know just how important social housing is. I’m deeply concerned that social housing tenants’ voices are not being heard in the corridors of power and that’s why we need an independent commissioner to stand up for social tenants.” 

Mr Khan also presented his new draft housing plan, which principally aims to provide more affordable housing to Londoners on low and middle incomes.

A number of London Assembly members spoke out against the strategy, saying it did not provide enoguh detail on funding for affordable homes of three bedrooms or more.

Andrew Boff AM (Con) said: “Yesterday the Mayor has failed the 360,000 children living in overcrowded homes in London. He has received £4.82bn of government funding, but has not committed a penny of this towards family-sized homes of three or four bedrooms. As far as the Mayor is concerned, London is closed to families.”

The GLA’s latest statistics on affordable housing delivery show that work started on 12,526 new affordable homes in 2017-18, with 5,355 completed in the same year. Newham LBC witnessed the highest rate of activity, with 1,789 new starts reported in the financial year - followed by Tower Hamlets, with 1,524 new starts. The statistics do not show a breakdown of the number of bedrooms available in each property.

Mr Khan said: “Today’s strategy sets out how we are doing everything within our power to build more social rented and other genuinely affordable homes, helping councils to build more homes themselves, and making sure that residents’ voices are heard.”

To this end the mayor will work with London councils to invest £1.67bn of central government grants in affordable housing.

According to the mayor’s housing strategy: “The proportion of homes given planning approval that were affordable fell from 33 per cent in 2007-08 down to a low of just 13 per cent in 2014-15.”

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