London’s Labour mayor, Sadiq Khan, has set an ambitious target of bringing 10,000 private homes in the capital into the social rental sector over the next 10 years. The implementation of his Council Homes Acquisition Programme (CHAP) aims to facilitate this transition by providing councils with access to funds specifically designated for the purchase of homes from the private market.
The Council Homes Acquisition Programme (CHAP), spearheaded by Khan, represents a strategic move to address the pressing issue of housing insecurity in London. With over 170,000 Londoners currently residing in insecure temporary accommodation, including more than 83,000 children, Khan’s initiative underscores the urgent need for practical solutions. Many families find themselves stuck in unsuitable bed and breakfast accommodations, highlighting the severity of the housing crisis in the city.
Khan’s focus on repurposing private homes for social rental aligns with his commitment to improving living conditions and addressing the challenges faced by thousands of Londoners. By providing councils with the means to purchase homes from the private market, CHAP aims to not only increase the availability of social rental properties but also offer more stable and secure housing options for those currently living in precarious conditions.
The housing crisis in the capital is stark, with approximately one in 23 children currently residing in insecure temporary accommodation, underscoring the pressing need for substantial interventions.
In a bid to address this challenge, the newly launched Council Homes Acquisition Programme (CHAP) offers all London boroughs the opportunity to bid for funding. This program sets stringent criteria, requiring homes funded through CHAP to comply with the Decent Homes Standard and meet rigorous building safety standards. Moreover, these homes must be situated within the boundaries of the respective boroughs, emphasizing the importance of allowing residents to maintain connections with their local communities.
The scope of CHAP extends to empowering local authorities to acquire diverse housing options from the private market. This includes reclaiming former council homes that were lost to the Right to Buy scheme. Sadiq Khan contends that the Right to Buy, in operation for over four decades, has played a role in diminishing the overall number of council homes in London.
The introduction of CHAP marks a strategic continuation of Khan’s previous Right to Buy-back scheme, which proved successful with over 1,200 homes being acquired by councils. This ongoing commitment to providing local authorities with the means to address housing challenges aligns with Khan’s broader vision for a more secure and stable housing landscape in the capital.
“I’ve placed council housing at the forefront of my strategy to bolster homebuilding in London, and the results are evident — we’re presently constructing more council homes than at any point since the 1970s, surpassing the combined efforts of the rest of the country. The Council Homes Acquisition Programme is a pivotal component of this effort, providing boroughs with the means to swiftly increase the number of council homes in our city. This initiative serves as the inaugural step towards achieving my ambitious goal of councils procuring 10,000 homes over the next decade.
Addressing the social housing crisis requires decisive actions, and the Council Homes Acquisition Programme stands as a significant move to stem the tide of housing loss and revitalize London’s council house inventory. By bringing these homes into public ownership, we are not just constructing residences; we are fostering the foundation for a better London — a city that is not only greener, fairer, and more prosperous but also ensures housing accessibility for all.”
This commitment to fortifying social housing in London reflects my dedication to creating a city that caters to the diverse needs of its residents. The Council Homes Acquisition Programme represents a concrete step towards building a more equitable and sustainable housing landscape, prioritizing the welfare of Londoners grappling with high housing costs. As we press forward, my resolve remains firm in addressing the multifaceted challenges of the housing sector, laying the groundwork for a city that thrives on inclusivity, environmental consciousness, and economic prosperity for all its inhabitants.
A statement from Khan’s office, launching the CHAP initiative, says that under his leadership “London has entered a golden era of council housebuilding.”
Khan claims since 2018 some 23,000 council homes have been built – or are being built – with the help of his funding.
He says London has completed more homes of all types in recent years than at any time since the 1930s and delivered higher council homebuilding than at any time since the 1970s – more than the rest of the country combined.