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Grenfell Tower borough built fewer affordable homes than any other London council, new figures reveal

Exclusive: Kensington and Chelsea has completed an average of just 61 genuinely affordable homes each year since 2014 – 80 per cent lower than the average

Benjamin Kentish
Political Correspondent
Friday 20 April 2018 12:34 BST
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Kensington and Chelsea built more than a fifth fewer homes than the average London council
Kensington and Chelsea built more than a fifth fewer homes than the average London council (Getty)

The Conservative council responsible for Grenfell Tower has built fewer affordable homes than any other London borough in recent years, new analysis has revealed.

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has started work on just 244 genuinely affordable homes since 2014 – an average of 61 each year and less than a fifth of the total built by the average London borough.

Analysis released by Labour showed that, across the capital, Conservative councils built close to half as many homes as Labour boroughs.

The finding that Kensington and Chelsea was the worst performer is likely to raise further questions about its record on low-cost housing in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster, in which 71 people died.

The council has been accused of failing to sufficiently invest in affordable housing and adequately maintain existing homes.

Labour’s analysis showed that, on average, Labour-led boroughs built 82 per cent more affordable housing than Conservative councils.

The figures, which are based on new official data published this week, were released ahead of local elections in London on 3 May. Polls suggest Labour may win a bigger share of the vote in the capital than any party ever has, and could take control of the flagship Conservative boroughs of Barnet, Wandsworth and Westminster.

Commenting on the latest figures, Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, attacked Conservative councils over their “abject failure” on house building and accused them of “refusing to play their part in tackling London’s housing crisis”.

He told The Independent: “These incredible figures clearly show that Labour councils are building almost twice as much affordable housing as Conservative councils across London.

“In doing so, they lay bare the massive difference in political priorities between a Labour Party that is committed to building the genuinely affordable homes Londoners need and a Conservative Party that isn’t.

“Not only do these figures reveal that Conservative councils are refusing to play their part in tackling London’s housing crisis, they paint a truly damning picture of the Tory record on affordable housing in London – a record that is not only shameful, but utterly indefensible.

He added: “I’m angry that Londoners living in Conservative-run boroughs have been so badly let down by Tory councils that are failing to build the genuinely affordable homes they need. If these boroughs had been run by Labour over the last four years, up to 6,000 more genuinely affordable homes could have been started for Londoners.”

The Conservatives have been contacted for comment.

Number of social housing properties in England drops 11 per cent in one year

The average Conservative borough has begun work on 720 genuinely affordable homes since 2014, when local elections were last held in London, while Labour councils started an average of 1,310.

Labour claimed a further 6,000 affordable homes could have been built if it controlled the 10 boroughs that are currently run by the Tories.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “These figures show what Labour in power can deliver for Londoners. Sadiq is building record numbers of homes that people can actually afford to live in – including new social homes, homes at the new London living rent set at a third of local income, and affordable shared ownership.

“I am pledging that a Labour government would do the same for people across the country. Under the Tories housing has become about speculation for a wealthy few, pricing out millions of people from a decent, secure home.”

Of the 38,514 genuinely affordable homes started in London since 2014, 26,202 were built under Labour councils – although this is only 2,200 homes more than would be expected given Labour controls almost two-thirds of London councils.

While the average Labour-run authority began 1,310 affordable homes per year, many Tory-led boroughs managed less than half this. In four years, Hillingdon built 558, Bromley 548, Westminster 423 and Richmond upon Thames 308.

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