Government’s own figures add up to councils keeping RTB receipts

CIH says stats show mounting evidence that RTB replacements are simply not keeping pace with the level of sales.

For Sale and To Rent Signs estate agent boards

CIH is citing the government’s own figures add up to councils keeping all Right to Buy receipts to build affordable homes – rather than being forced to hand over a proportion to the Treasury.

Figures newly released by the DCLG show 2,558 homes were sold by councils through the right to buy scheme in England in July to September 2017, while only 744 were started or acquired to replace them using the receipts.

Since Right to Buy discounts were increased in April 2012, 60,423 homes have been sold, while only 14,736 have been started or acquired to replace them.

Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) deputy chief executive Gavin Smart said: “The government has rightly recognised that we need more homes for the lowest social rents – but right to buy is undermining efforts to provide genuinely affordable homes for people on lower incomes.

“We understand that the government is trying to help people achieve their aspiration of home ownership – but if affordable homes for rent are being sold, it’s absolutely crucial that they are replaced.

“Just last week we saw new research showing more than 40% of former right to buy homes are now being let privately.

“Today’s figures are further confirmation that the number of replacement homes being built is nowhere near the number being sold.”

CIH research confirmed most councils only expect to be able to replace half or fewer of the homes they sell under right to buy.

“It’s always been clear that there would be a time lag between homes being sold and homes being built to replace them, but it’s now been more than five years since right to buy discounts were increased and there is mounting evidence that replacements are simply not keeping pace with the level of sales,” said Smart.

The DCLG figures for July-September 2017-18 (Q2), show councils sold an estimated 2,558 homes under the Right to Buy scheme.

This is a decrease of 21% from the 3,255 sold in the same quarter of 2016-17.

Councils in London sold an estimated 509 homes under Right to Buy in July to September 2017- 18 – a  decrease of 36% from the 800 sold in the same quarter of 2016-17.

London councils also accounted for 20% of sales in 2017-18 Q2; 5 percentage points lower than the 25% recorded in the same quarter of 2016-17.

Over the period, councils received approximately £219.8 million from Right to Buy sales, 21% lower than the £279.4 million in the same quarter of 2016-17.

The average receipt per home sold in 2017-18 Q2 was £86,000, this compares to £86,000 in the same quarter of 2016-17.

There were 744 dwellings started on site or acquired (as part of Right to Buy replacement policy, 46% fewer than the number started or acquired in the same quarter of 2016-17.

In total, there have been 14,736 affordable units started or acquired (as replacements) by Local Authorities, the HCA and GLA since the reinvigoration of the Right to Buy policy in April 2012.

Cllr Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s Housing spokesman, added: “We know that Right to Buy can help those who often couldn’t get on the ladder without it to secure a home of their own – but if the Government doesn’t allow councils to replace homes sold off, the Right to Buy itself could grind to a halt.

“Councils have lost out on enough homes to house the population of Oxford in the last five years, and we urgently need a model of Right to Buy that actually allows councils to build more homes, in order to increase the opportunities for families.

“Current arrangements are restricting councils from being able to replace homes being sold under the scheme.

“It’s essential councils are able to keep 100 per cent of their Right to Buy receipts, and that all councils, across the country, are freed to be able to borrow to build new homes – the upcoming Local Government Finance Settlement would be an ideal opportunity to do this.”

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