Right to Buy rules undermining council’s housing efforts

Council leaders have argued that housebuilding efforts by councils risk being undermined without reform to the Right to Buy scheme in next month’s Spending Round.

Latest figures show that councils in England directly built 2,560 homes in 2018/19 - the highest since 1992 when they built 2,580 homes. However, the number of homes being sold under Right to Buy continues to dwarf the amount of new housing councils are able to build, with more than six times as many homes sold under Right to Buy as those built by councils in 2017/18.

Furthermore, councils have only been able to replace nearly a fifth of homes sold since 2012. Councils have seen an increase of nearly 350 per cent in Right to Buy sales of council homes, from 2,638 in 2011/12 to 11,833 in 2017/18.

Following the lifting the housing borrowing cap last year, council leaders are urging the government to go further and use next month’s Spending Round to reform the Right to Buy scheme, which is restricting councils from replacing homes sold.

Judith Blake, LGA’s Housing spokesperson, said: “Councils are trying to build the new homes with the right infrastructure that our communities desperately need. However, the number of new council homes being built is not able to keep pace with those sold under Right to Buy.

“Right to Buy continues to enable many families to achieve the dream of getting on the housing ladder and owning their own home, but it urgently needs reform. Current arrangements are restricting councils from being able to replace homes being sold under the scheme. This loss of social rented housing risks pushing more families into the private rented sector, driving up housing benefit spending and rents and exacerbating our homelessness crisis.

“There are more than a million people on council waiting lists and councils can further get on with the job of building the new homes that people in their areas desperately need if they are able to keep all RTB receipts to replace any homes sold.”

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