London mayor criticised for £120m housing underspend

London Mayor's failure to spend on affordable homes criticised

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The revelation there is to be a £120m underspend on building affordable homes shows London's mayor is failing to meet his targets, his critics say.

Boris Johnson has been criticised by opposition parties after City Hall committed to spend £283m in 2013-14, but thinks it will spend only £163m.

The number of affordable homes built has also more than halved, since 2011.

Mr Johnson pledged to build 100,000 homes by the end of his term in May, and his office says he is on target.

The London administration received money to build affordable housing from two funds - £207.7m from the National Affordable Housing Programme and £76.1m from the Affordable Homes Programme.

'Re-profiling budgets'

But, it expects to spend about £138m from the former and £25m from the latter - leaving an unused budget of more than £120m this year.

Len Duvall, leader of the Labour group in the London Assembly, said: "The London housing crisis demands urgent action, people would want to know what this money needs to be spent on, why its not being spent on the housing that we need now in London."

On Thursday, City Hall's Investment and Performance Board was told the capital underspend "primarily related to re-profiling of the Affordable Homes Programme and the National Affordable Housing Programme budgets".

This, the mayor's office said, means they now pay developers the full amount after they have completed projects, rather than giving them 75% at first and the remainder on completion.

For 2013-14, the administration expects to build 7,086 affordable homes compared to 8,114 houses the year before - a near 50% drop from 2011-12, when 16,173 homes were built.

Mayor's 'record abysmal'

More than 12,800 affordable homes were built in 2010-11.

Richard Blakeway, deputy mayor for housing, said: "The way we are operating is we have commitments from developers to build the homes and we will pay them when they build them and we are on target to build 100,000 homes by the end of this mayoral term."

Explaining the variation in the number of homes delivered he said: "You will get these ebbs and flows, these peaks and troughs, overall the numbers will be high but that pattern of getting there is entirely the result of the way in which the London government is funded".

But, Stephen Knight, Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member, said: "The mayor says that delivering affordable housing is the most important priority for London but when it comes to actual delivery his record is abysmal."

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