Right to Buy extension 'could halt council house development'

26 Jan 16

Government proposals to extend the Right to Buy to housing association tenants – and to fund the reform through council house sales – would reverse a “renaissance” in development, social housing groups have warned.

The National Federation of ALMOs, which represents the arm’s length organisations that took over housing management after local government stock transfers, and the Association of Retained Council Housing jointly called for government to reverse their plans. ARCH represents local authorities that continue to own and manage their properties.

The groups warned that plans to make councils pay for the cost of extending Right to Buy, in order to then encourage sale of high value councils houses, would reverse the benefits of Housing Revenue Account reform.

Since councils were made self-financing for council housing in 2012, council housebuilding was now at a 23-year high, they found.
However, the provisions in the Housing and Planning Bill threatened to reverse this progress.

Measures to force councils to sell high value homes to fund discounts offered to housing association tenants did not currently include any provision for the replacement of council homes outside of London, the highlighted. This, combined with the 1% cut in social rents set out by chancellor George Osborne last year, would significantly curtail councils’ ability to fund future new build programmes.
In a joint briefing, the NFA and ARCH called on the House of Lords, which will examine the bill today, to support amendments to ensure that every council house sold is replaced by at least one, or two in London.

National Federation of ALMOs chair Hugh Broadbent said the government needed “to uphold the principle of self-financing and make vital changes to the Housing Bill to enable ALMOs and councils to continue to build homes within our communities”.

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