LGA: 80,000 council houses under threat from Right-to-Buy reforms

29 Jan 16

As many as 80,000 council houses could be lost by 2020 under government reforms to extend Right to Buy unless councils are given greater powers to build new homes, the Local Government Association has warned.

Analysing the impact of plans to extend the Right to Buy to housing association tenants, the LGA said it could increase the Housing Benefit bill by £210m due to more people moving into private rented accommodation.

According to the LGA figures, 66,000 council homes are forecast to be sold to tenants under the existing Right to Buy scheme by the end of the decade. In addition, the group predicts councils could then be forced to sell a further 22,000 “high value” homes in order to fund the extension to housing association tenants, although this depends on how “high value” is eventually defined.

Councils said they would struggle to replace the majority of these homes sold as they only retain a third of receipts that can be used to build new homes.

LGA housing spokesman Peter Box said 80,000 of these 88,000 homes sold under Right to Buy by 2020 would therefore not be replaced. 

“Councils want to help the government shift spending from benefits to bricks and support measures to help people into home ownership but the Right to Buy extension must absolutely not be funded by forcing councils to sell off their homes,” he said. 

“Not everyone can afford to buy. With 68,000 people currently living in temporary accommodation, annual homelessness spending of at least £330m and more than a million more on council waiting lists it is clear that only an increase of all types of housing – including those for affordable or social rent – will solve our housing crisis.”

He warned that unless there were changes to the Housing and Planning Bill, which will enact these changes and is being examined by the House of Lords, building replacements would be “almost impossible”.

He added: “Councils have long-called for the ability to replace housing sold through Right to Buy quickly and retain 100% of receipts from all sales. This is imperative to ensure that councils can to reinvest in rapidly building the homes that people in their areas desperately need.”

Instead of forcing councils to sell high value council houses, the LGA called on the government to fund the Right to Buy extension by giving councils the power to help raise £13bn by building more new homes on surplus public land.

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