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Right To Buy Is Destroying Social Housing – And It’s About To Get Worse


New figures published by the government reveal that less than 12% of homes sold under Right to Buy have been replaced since April 2012.

2,941 homes were sold by councils through the right to buy scheme in England in July to September 2015, while only 423 were started or acquired to replace them using the receipts from Right to Buy.

In the year to September, 12,329 homes were sold, while 1,863 were started or acquired to replace them.

Since Right to Buy discounts were increased in April 2012, 35,229 homes have been sold, while only 4,117 have been started or acquired to replace them – just 11.69%.

The government is extending Right to Buy to social housing associations from next year, with experts concerned about the loss of social rented homes at a time when there is growing need of affordable housing.

Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) chief executive Terrie Alafat said: “There is nothing wrong with the government’s aim to help people achieve their aspiration of home ownership – but if affordable homes for rent are being sold, it’s absolutely crucial that they are replaced.

“We are concerned about the loss of social rented homes at a time when more and more people are in need of affordable housing.

“Today’s figures are further confirmation that the number of replacement homes being built is nowhere near the number being sold.”

Research published by the CIH calls on the government to adopt a more flexible approach to Right to Buy.

A survey by the independent experts earlier this year found that 73% of councils feel that the current system only allows them to replace half or fewer of homes sold. While 12% said they would not be able to replace any social rented homes.

CIH argues that with 1.5million people looking for an affordable home, councils should be given powers to replace homes “quickly and effectively”. This would also help to reduce the spiraling Housing Benefit bill, CIH says.

Related: Housing Benefit Bill Soars Nearly 35% In Just Seven Years

Terrie Alafat said: “Our research has shown that most councils only expect to be able to replace half or fewer of the homes they sell under right to buy.

“It’s always been clear that there would be a time lag between homes being sold and homes being built to replace them, but it’s now been more than three years since right to buy discounts were increased and there is mounting evidence that replacements are simply not keeping pace with the level of sales.”

He added that government ministers should consider the evidence from the current scheme, before expanding Right to Buy to social housing association tenants.

CIH has called for the government to modify the Right to Buy scheme, so that councils can build more homes to replace those sold. This could include allowing councils to keep all of the receipts from sales, rather than handing a proportion over to the Treasury.

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Councils should be allowed to keep 100 per cent of the receipts from sales, giving them greater flexibility over the level of discount and how they use them to replace the homes sold.

Cllr David Sparks, Local Government Association Chair, said in April: “There are millions of people on council waiting lists and local authorities want to get on with the job of building new homes that people in their areas desperately need.

“That is why it is so important that councils have the power and funding to replace any homes sold under the Right to Buy quickly.

“The common sense answer to this housing crisis is for the Government to allow councils to retain 100 per cent of the receipts from Right to Buy directly and give councils greater flexibility over the level of discount and how they use them to replace the homes sold.”


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