Right-to-Buy sales prompt call for housing re-think

16 Sep 15

Communities secretary Greg Clark has been urged to review the government’s housing policies after research found that only one in eight properties sold under the revamped Right to Buy scheme had been replaced in the last three years.

Figures from the District Councils’ Network show that fewer than 377 new homes were built to replace 3,019 properties sold under Right to Buy from 2012/13 to 2014/15 across 52 member councils. This represents a replacement rate of 12.5%.

The figures come as government plans to extend the Right to Buy to housing associations, and the DCN warned this, in addition to rent cuts announced by Chancellor George Osborne, risked hitting both the supply and quality of social housing in England.

The summer Budget announcement to cut social housing rents by 1% over the next four years will cost districts £718.6m, the DCN estimated.

This is expected to lead to “steep cuts” in social housing development, with construction already stalled on projects to build 534 properties across 17 district areas.

A delegation led by DCN chair Neil Clarke will meet with Clark today to explore how to mitigate the impact of what he called the government’s “contradictory” policies in light of its aim to boost housebuilding.

“Districts remain enthusiastic to deliver housing growth in the longer term for their communities,” he said.

“In advance of the November Spending Review, ministers must act on an evidence base which strongly indicates a double bind of less funding for new housing stock and a shrinking availability of social homes – alongside the more rapid deterioration of remaining stock.

“Failure to reconsider the impact of these policies would be an abdication of responsibility to thousands of hard-working families across England who deserve the chance to either take a first step on the property ladder or live in decent social housing where quality standards are maintained.”

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