While the coronavirus outbreak has led to the postponement of all local and mayoral elections in England for a year to May 2021, we thought now would still be a good time to explore how Sadiq Khan, the current Mayor of London, has performed with regards to housing during his firm term in City Hall.
The Mayor of London is one of the most influential figureheads outside of central government, and while the actual powers the leader of City Hall possesses are fairly limited, the Mayor does have a lot of soft power and a very high-profile global status.
Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone, the two previous mayors of London before Khan, both left their imprint on the role with two terms in City Hall apiece – from the Oyster Card, the congestion charge and the Olympics to Boris bikes – and the current Mayor will be hoping he can keep his recent poll momentum going and win a second term in May next year.
He’s so far overseen the introduction of the long-awaited Night Tube and the popular Hopper fare scheme, while also scrapping the controversial Garden Bridge scheme he inherited from his predecessor. Additionally, he’s been the leading voice on the capital’s ‘London is open’ stance since the Brexit referendum in June 2016.
At the same time, he’s had to deal with a range of challenges, including the tragic Grenfell Tower fire, numerous terror attacks and the Extinction Rebellion protests. He’s faced frequent criticism from the American President Donald Trump, which he’s attempted to use to his advantage (famously allowing an over-sized baby blimp at a number of protests against Trump’s state visit), and has also faced questions marks over affordable housing and his record on tackling knife crime.
But what about housing, which before the last mayoral election in May 2016 (a month before Brexit overtook everything) was seen as the top political issue for voters in the capital.
Khan called that election – which saw him secure a resounding win over Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith after a bitterly fought campaign – a ‘referendum’ on housing, an echo of his refrain this time around that the now postponed May 7 election will be a referendum on rent controls.
How many of the promises he made then, though, has he been able to meet?
‘Homes for Londoners’ and 80,000 new homes a year
During his pitch to become Mayor, Khan said he would set up ‘Homes for Londoners’, a team based at City Hall whose job it would be to ensure that half of all new homes built by developers and local authorities are genuinely affordable.
While the team has been set up – and plays a key role in running things such as the £10 million Homebuilding Fund, the Land Fund and the Innovation Fund – critics question the number of affordable homes Khan has overseen against his previous promises.
Recently released figures suggest that 12,546 affordable homes were started in the capital between March and December 2019 through Greater London Authority (GLA) programmes, up from just 6,066 homes the year before. Read More….
Read Also: Coronavirus is not a bioweapon created in a lab, scientists say…