Ground was broken on more than 17,000 affordable homes in London last year, figures revealed today (Thursday, May 14).

New starts were up almost 20 per cent from 14,500 the previous year – with more council houses than any year in over three decades, the Mayor said.

But opponents have warned Sadiq Khan must go further and faster if he is to meet his own home-building targets.

As London’s population grows, the city need 66,000 new homes a year – including many affordable properties.

The Mayor uses three definitions for “genuinely affordable” builds:

Shared ownership schemes to help private renters get onto the property ladder by buying part of their home;

Living rent, which cannot be more than a third of average incomes in the area;

And even more heavily discounted social rent, the Mayor’s preferred option.

City Hall says 17,256 affordable homes were started in the 2019/20 financial year, including 7,156 at the cheapest social rent, and 3,300 council houses.

But the Mayor warned London will have “a mountain to climb to kickstart the housing sector” after the Covid-19 pandemic.

The virus has seen construction pause on almost 29,000 homes in London, analysis by estate agent Savills estimates.

Most bigger building companies have stopped buying new land, and fewer sites are being brought forward for development, the research found.

Mr Khan said the pandemic would be a “massive challenge to our ambitious targets”.

“We have proved that we can make sustained progress and now we need ministers to acknowledge this and support us with the funding and resources we need,” he said.

But London politicians today accused the Mayor of self-congratulation – and said more work is needed to solve London’s housing crisis.

Just 7,775 affordable homes were finished last year – only 3 per cent more than the 7,544 completions last year.

Liberal Democrat London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon warned that only finished builds really matter.

“Boasting about homes that might one day be completed is no help to anyone who is homeless or living in overcrowded accommodation,” she said.

Conservative London housing spokesman Andrew Boff said house-building during Sadiq Khan’s mayoralty has been consistently “sluggish”.

“The Mayor has failed time and time again to show any urgency and recognise that housebuilding in London needs to be a sprint rather than a marathon,” he claimed.

Mr Khan promised to build 116,000 affordable homes by 2022 – but with two years left, less than half those homes have been started.

“After years of struggling to meet his minimum targets, Khan is simply not on track to deliver the homes he promised by the 2022 deadline,” Mr Boff warned.