England: Only one in ten council homes sold off under Right to Buy being replaced

Right to BuyThe UK government’s pledge that a new home would be built to replace every one sold under its Right to Buy policy has fallen dramatically short, new figures have revealed.

Statistics released by the Department for Communities and Local Government show that 2,779 homes were sold by councils through the Right to Buy scheme in England in April to June 2015, while only 307 were started or acquired to replace them using the receipts.

In the year to June, 12,235 homes were sold, while 1,842 were started or acquired to replace them. Since Right to Buy discounts were increased in April 2012 32,288 homes have been sold, while only 3,644 have been started or acquired to replace them.

Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) deputy chief executive, Gavin Smart, said the figures make it clear that the number of replacement homes being built is nowhere near the number being sold.

He said: “We understand the government’s aim to encourage people to become home owners, but we’re very concerned about the loss of social rented homes at a time when more and more people are in need of affordable housing.”

Mr Smart added: “Our research has shown that most authorities 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 lag between homes being sold and homes being built to replace them, but more than three years since Right to Buy discounts were increased there is mounting evidence that one for one replacement is nowhere near being achieved.”

CIH has called for the government to modify the Right to Buy scheme to help councils build more homes to replace those sold, such as allowing them to keep all of the receipts rather than handing a proportion over to the Treasury.

The government is proposing to extend the Right to Buy to housing association tenants in England and Gavin Smart said that ministers should consider the evidence of how the current scheme is working.

He said: “New sales of housing association properties will be in addition to right to buy sales by local authorities and conversions of homes to affordable rents. And of course high-value council homes will be sold to fund the discounts.

“An alternative option for the new right to buy would be giving tenants portable discounts they could use to buy properties of their own choosing, so that social rented housing could be kept and used to help people unable to afford to buy their own homes.”

The Scottish Parliament voted in 2013 to end Right to Buy north of the border from 1 August 2016. Tenants with a Right to Buy that they are allowed to use will have until 31 July 2016 to do so.

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