William Eichler 04 May 2016

Right to Buy extension to cost councils £26m a year

Right to Buy extension to cost councils £26m a year image

The average English council will need to pay £26m a year to fund the Government’s Right to Buy extension, housing charity warns.

Whitehall’s flagship policy, a part of the Housing and Planning Bill, will force councils to sell some of their properties on the open market once they become vacant.

The housing charity Shelter estimates this will lead to 23,500 council homes being sold off across the country in just one year.

The cash subsequently raised by the sales would go towards funding discounts of up to £100,000 for housing association tenants taking up the Right to Buy.

Shelter’s analysis estimated the value of council homes in each area likely to become vacant and compared this to the £4.5bn per year needed by the Government to fund the extension of Right to Buy.

This revealed the average amount — £26m — local authorities will need to pay a year and it also highlighted the councils who will be hit the hardest.

Birmingham, for example, will need to raise £145m per annum from the sale of its council houses. Leeds will have to raise £129m and Southwark £122m.

Shelter also warns the Housing Bill will mean genuinely affordable homes will be sold and replaced by Starter Homes costing up to £250,000 (£450,000 in London).

They also claim it is likely many will not be replaced at all because under the existing Right to Buy scheme only one home is built for every eight sold.

Campbell Robb, Shelter’s chief executive, said: ‘With millions of families struggling to find a home they can afford, forcing councils to sell-off huge swathes of the few genuinely affordable homes they have left is reckless.

‘Whilst the small number of lucky winners from this policy will understandably be grateful for the chance to buy their housing association property. Ultimately, far more people will lose out and be left with no choice but expensive, unstable private renting.

‘The government is out of touch on this issue, and running out of time to help the millions of ordinary people crying out for a home that they can actually afford.’

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