Councils warnspiralling sell-off of low-cost homes is 'unsustainable' as Labour calls for scheme to be halted.
Number of council homes sold off under Right to Buy increases five-fold in six years after Tories lift cap
The rapid loss of social housing because of the Right to Buy scheme has been laid bare after new figures revealed more than five times more homes are being sold now than in 2012 - writes independent.co.uk
Councils said Right to Buy had became “unsustainable” afterit emerged the sell-off of council homes has drastically accelerated in the past few years, while Labour labelled the figures “indefensible”.
More than £3.5bn of public money has gone to help almost 60,000 tenants buy their home at a hefty discount in the past six years, prompting local councils to warn of a “fire sale” of low-cost homes.
Town-hall leaders said Right to Buy had become “unsustainable” and could not be continued unless councils are given more powers to build replacement homes.
The analysis, released by the Local Government Association , provides one of the clearest indications to date of how the Government’s decision to increase the size of the discount people are given when buying their council home has accelerated the loss of genuinely affordable housing.
In April 2012, Conservatives ministers “revamped” Right to Buy and raised the maximum discount on a property to £75,000 (it has since increased further, to more than £100,000, in some parts of the country). Since then, the number of homes sold off has increased by 409 per cent, from 2,638 in 2011-12 to 13,416 in 2016-17.
This has come at a rising cost to the taxpayer, with the average discount given to tenants having more than doubled since 2012, from £26,690 to £61,810 – a 132 per cent increase.
It means tenants are able to buy their home at less than half the market value – with the average discount now at 43 per cent of the property’s value, up from 25 per cent in 2012.
In total, nearly 58,000 council homes have been privatised under Right to Buy in the past six years alone.
The mass sell-off comes despite the number of social homes in England having hit record lows and council house waiting lists reaching ten years in some parts of the country.
While Right to Buy has helped tens of thousands of people get a foot on the housing ladder since 2012, Labour said the total number of households under the age of 45 who own their own home has dropped by a million since 2010.
Despite concern over the impact of the Right to Buy, in 2016 the Government extended the scheme to housing association properties – meaning a further 1.5 million low-cost homes could be sold off.
The LGA called on ministers to allow councils to keep more of the money they make from Right to Buy sales, in order to fund new homes. Currently town halls only retain about a third of the revenue, with a hefty chunk going to the Treasury.
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