The leader of Greenwich Council has said he “won’t scrimp” on building new council homes, while taking aim at Tory austerity for pushing more homeless households out the borough.

Dan Thorpe has prioritised housing in the first term of his leadership at Greenwich Council, committing to building 750 council homes – the most in decades.

It comes following huge spikes in the number of homeless households, with 20,000 people currently on the housing waiting list.

At a full council meeting on July 17, the leader said he could not promise that the council would not have to buy even more homes outside the borough following a decision to spend millions on emergency accommodation half an hour from Woolwich.

When quizzed on whether the council would stop using “short term” strategies like buying accommodation elsewhere, Cllr Thorpe said government cuts were stopping the council from building more.

He said: “Absolutely not really. As you can see from where we are in terms of the level of need, over 20,000 on the waiting list and 1,800 in temporary accommodation.

“Because of the effects of Tory austerity, we are just starting with 750 homes. In terms of how we are managing right to buy receipts this is one way we can do this.

“We need to make sure we are providing homes for as many people as need them and actually, although I would like to provide council homes for all those people, the longer as long as the Tories are in power it is impossible to do that.

“We have to find the best solution we can in the difficult position that we face.”

At the same meeting, the leader confirmed the council was looking at plans for more council homes following the first round of 750 – to be started by 2022 – but few details are available yet.

When pressed on whether the council was spending responsibly on its new builds, the leader insisted the council wouldn’t be tight with the purse strings.

He said: “What I can assure you is that we will not be scrimping to provide new housing. The costs will be the costs.

“We will be building the highest quality possible social housing, we will be making sure all the money we have secured will deliver first class social housing.”