Right to Buy fails to replace sold council homes

Photo: Number10Gov

Right to Buy could be proving wrong for the UK housing market, according to new figures released today, which show that just 1 in 9 council homes sold off are being replaced.

The government released new statistics today hailing the scheme’s success of creating almost 40,000 new homeowners in the last three years. 32,288 homes have been sold through the scheme, which allows council home tenants to purchase their home.

But despite the government pledging to replace the stock, like for like, just 3,644 starts have been made since the Right to Buy was reintroduced in 2012.

“This means that the 3,054 additional homes sold in the first year of the scheme are already being replaced on a one-for-one basis nationally,” said the government today.

However, it also means that just 1 in 9 homes sold have been replaced by a new build property.

In the 3 months to June, 2,779 households bought their homes under Right to Buy. At the same time, just 307 homes were started in replacement, between April and June 2015, a 17 per cent decrease on the same quarter in 2014.

Capbell Robb, Chief Executive of Shelter, says the government’s behaviour is “shameful”.

The figures follow a report from the housing charity that revealed the potential impact of government plans to sell off council housing, with new research showing that almost 113,000 council homes could face being sold on the private market.

The proposed scheme could force council homes worth more than a set threshold for the region to be sold once they become vacant. The money would then be used to fund new discounts of up to £100,000 for housing association tenants taking up the Right to Buy.

According to the charity’s estimates, the London borough of Camden would be amongst the worst hit, with more than 11,700 homes facing forced sale – equivalent to almost 50 per cent of their total council housing stock. Kensington and Chelsea could be forced to sell a staggering 97 per cent of their total, or over 6,600 homes, once they become vacant.

“At a time when millions of families are struggling to find somewhere affordable to live, plans to sell off large swathes of the few genuinely affordable homes we have left is only going to make things worse,” adds Robb.

“The government needs to scrap this proposal and start helping the millions of ordinary families struggling with sky high housing costs.”