CIPFA: extension of Right to Buy likely to deepen housing crisis

5 Oct 15

CIPFA has warned that extending the Right to Buy council homes could strip local authorities of their asset bases.

In a briefing issued today, the institute said an extension of the controversial policy was likely to deepen the housing crisis and lead to a reduction in the amount of social housing being built.

Ministers have proposed that Right to Buy be given to all housing association tenants, with the sale of high-value council homes funding the discount. But selling off valuable properties would greatly reduce councils’ ability to maintain local social housing provision.

CIPFA chief executive Rob Whiteman said: “Extending Right to Buy, without proper consultation with the public bodies which will foot the bill for it, is effectively stripping local communities of their most valuable assets in order to subsidise discounted sales elsewhere.

“It is unfortunate that the secretary of state's proposals have been formulated without any obvious negotiation between the two sectors. We believe it could well drive a wedge between housing associations and local authorities at a time when they should be working more closely together.”

The institute the only way to avoid the social housing situation deteriorating following the extension of Right to Buy would be if the government guaranteed one-to-one replacement of every home sold.

However, recent figures are not encouraging and show that in 2013/14 more than 11,000 council homes were sold but only 961 started on site or acquired.

At the Conservative Party conference today, Communities Secretary Greg Clark said the extension of Right to Buy was important as it would extend opportunity to people who had not had it before.

“Giving council tenants this right transformed the prospects of a generation of working people – including many people in this hall,” he said. “Since then, housing associations have taken over from councils as the bigger builders of houses. And housing association tenants are no different from anyone else in their hopes and dreams. They have the same ambitions and should have the same opportunities especially the opportunity of home ownership.

“This is the manifesto we stood on – and so we are doing what we promised. We are extending the Right to Buy from council tenants to housing association tenants.”

He insisted that for every home sold under the scheme, the government would ensure that a new one is built.

Building more homes and creating more homeowners was one of the key missions of this government, he added.

“By reforming the planning system, we now have over 240,000 homes a year getting planning permission,” he told delegates in Manchester.

“We are building more affordable homes than for 20 years and built more council homes in five years than the last Labour government built in 13 years. But we must now go further and build the homes that we need to close the housing deficit that we inherited.”

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