Mayor Khan denies Redbridge Council slice of £1bn council home funding despite thousands waiting on housing register
PUBLISHED: 10:30 25 October 2018
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has denied Redbridge a share of a £1bn grant for building new council homes – seemingly the only London borough to miss out of the 27 known to have applied.
Mr Khan announced on Tuesday, October 23 that he has agreed more than £1bn in deals with 26 boroughs to build more than 11,000 council homes at social rent levels over the next four years.
Redbridge - number 27 on the list - has instead been allowed to “reinvest” all of the £23m it has amassed from “Right to Buy receipts”.
The council has lost 2,607 houses and flats in the past 10 years to Right to Buy, the policy enacted in the 1980s to allow council tenants to buy their homes.
At present local authorities can only fund 30pc of replacement council homes using Right to Buy receipts – whether through acquisition or new build.
These receipts are given to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) if not spent within three years.
It is then eventually given to either Homes England or the Greater London Authority (GLA) to put towards affordable housing provision.
With its newly unleashed reciepts, Redbridge Council aims to create 400 new homes.
Reacting to the news, Conservative opposition leader Cllr Linda Huggett said: “Whilst we welcome the news that 26 London boroughs have successfully bid for funds we will be raising questions at [full] council as to why no funding was made available to Redbridge who seem to be unique as the only London borough that did not receive any allocation.”
Newham received the largest share of the Mayor’s “building council homes for Londoners” funding at £107m, followed by Ealing at £99m.
Cllr Huggett added: “The funding for this project has been provided directly from central government and not Sadiq Khan.
“This is yet another example of the current Mayor of London claiming credit for something he has not done himself.”
The money for the scheme has become available following prime minister’s announcement at the Conservative Party conference that she would lift the cap on the amount councils can borrow to build new homes.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Mayor Khan said: “Today, City Hall is using money we secured from government to help councils go much further.”
He added: “The scale of what I have announced today shows the ambition is there in London to build a new generation of council homes – ministers now urgently need to step up and go the distance too.”
Redbridge Council has vowed to provide 1,000 affordable houses over the next four years.
Around 5,000 people were reported to be on the council’s housing register as of August this year.
Council leader Cllr Jas Athwal said: “Our borough is one of the fastest growing parts of the country and it’s no secret our residents desperately need affordable new properties.
“In addition to working with the mayor to reinvest receipts from Right to Buy sales in these 400 new council homes, we are lobbying the government to change their out-of-date rules on Right to Buy receipts.”
He added: “I have been working closely with City Hall to find ways to better deliver on our housing aspirations in Redbridge with the mayor’s support; and we are looking forward to positive news in the foreseeable future – watch this space.
“The council is clear in its aspirations and is redoubling its efforts to build the 1,000 affordable homes as promised, the Mayor of London’s support has been invaluable as we turn to phase two of our delivery.”
James Murray, London’s deputy mayor for housing and residential development, said: “The mayor is supporting Redbridge to make sure that, despite the national government’s restrictive rules, they can reinvest receipts from Right to Buy sales in new council homes.
“We look forward to continuing to work together with Redbridge to find opportunities for even more council homes in the near future, to meet our shared ambitions.”