Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has urged ministers to significantly increase the number of council houses in London, in a bid to offset increasing wealth disparities caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Khan today launched a major new report calling on the government to “stop blocking the aspiration of London’s councils to build” and urging ministers to up funding for new affordable homes in the capital.
The report proposed introducing new legislation to allow councils to purchase land compulsorily and setting aside more government-owned land for council houses.
It comes after research published earlier this month by City Hall showed that “the Covid-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected disabled Londoners, people in areas of high deprivation and those from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds”.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in London hit 74,977 yesterday, with Ealing, Barnet and Brent remaining the capital’s worst-affected boroughs.
Ealing reported 64 new infections yesterday, taking the total number of cases in the borough to 3,570, while 68 new infections in Barnet took its total to 3,512.
Brent in north-west London has also seen a sharp uptick in infections, with 50 new cases yesterday taking its total number of infections to 3,216.
Research from a poverty inquiry into the borough published in August said chronic overcrowding and widespread poverty in Brent had created ideal conditions for the virus to thrive.
“As we grapple with the impact of coronavirus, it is more important than ever that we address our city’s inequalities and build the good quality council homes that future generations of Londoners will be proud to live in,” said Khan,
“There is a big appetite from councils to build the homes Londoners so desperately need. Ministers now need to stop blocking the aspirations of London’s councils to build, and give London the funding and powers we need to build new council homes at scale.”
It comes after London saw a swathe of new restrictions come into force over the weekend, as the capital moved from Tier 1 to Tier 2 under the new local lockdown system.
Business bodies have warned that the new restrictions will “decimate” businesses in the capital, which could cause a ripple of redundancies across London’s jobs market.
Leading trade body UK Hospitality last week warned that tougher Tier 2 Covid restrictions will put up to 250,000 jobs at risk in London’s hospitality sector, sparking demonstrations from the capital’s chefs, waiters and pub landlords in Parliament Square earlier this week.
The mayor today said that securing investment in London council houses will help alleviate the economic burden of the pandemic across the capital.
Khan said: “There’s been huge progress in recent years, but I know we can do more. We’ve laid the foundations for a new era of council homebuilding to be at the heart of our post-Covid recovery — it is now up to ministers to back us to deliver.”