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Housing watchdog urges government to rein in Right to Buy

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  • 10/12/2015
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Housing watchdog urges government to rein in Right to Buy
The chief executive of housing charity the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) is calling on the government to modify its Right to Buy scheme to stop the dilution of social housing stock held by local authorities.

Figures released by the Department for Communities and Local Government showed that 2,941 homes were sold by councils under the Right to Buy scheme in England between July and September but only 423 were started or purchased to replace them.

In the 12 months to September, 12,329 homes were sold while 1,863 were started or acquired to replenish stocks.

Terrie Alafat, CEO of CIH, said local authorities should be allowed to keep all the money they receive from tenants who have purchased their council home rather than passing some of it on to the Treasury. Alafat said this would allow local authorities to build more homes to keep stock levels up.

Right to Buy discounts were increased in April 2012 to boost sales to social housing tenants.

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

In October, David Cameron secured the support of the National Housing Federation and housing associations for an extension to Right to Buy which will be rolled out to 1.3m families starting next year. The revised scheme will see the government compensate housing associations for homes they sell at a discount. The maximum discounts available to purchase homes range up to £103,900 in London and £77,900 across the rest of the country.

Alafat said ministers should consider the evidence from the current scheme when deciding the details of how the extension will work in practice.

The extension of the scheme faced tough opposition in the House of Lords when Sir Bob Kerslake, the former senior civil servant at DCLG, said there was ‘significant concern’ over the legislation to open up eligibility to housing association tenants.

Kerslake said the impact on the London housing market would be ‘truly disastrous’.

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