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Right to Buy ‘threatened’ – LGA

Words: Laura Edgar
New housing / Shutterstock

Right to Buy is under threat and will ‘grind to a halt’ if local authorities are not given the financial power to replace homes that are sold through the scheme, according to the Local Government Association (LGA).

Councils can keep a third of all receipts from Right to Buy (RTB) homes but are “prevented” from borrowing to make up the shortfall. Additionally, said the LGA, complex rules and restriction hamper the ability of councils to replace homes.

Since 2012, 54,581 homes have been sold off and 12,472 replacement homes started, leaving a shortfall of 42,109 homes – enough to house 168,000 people if each home included four family members, or a city the size of Oxford or Reading.

In 2016/2017, 12,826 were sold under Right to Buy, with councils starting to build 4,475 homes.

The LGA wants the government to use the Autumn Budget next week (22 November) to allow councils to retain 100 per cent of Right to Buy sales receipts. Also, it says, they should be given more freedom to borrow to invest and to set rents, and the flexibility to determine has Right to Buy is implemented in their area.

The body representing councils in England and Wales thinks this should be part of a wider ambition to allow councils to resume their role as a major builder of affordable homes.

Martin Tett, the LGA’s housing spokesperson, said: “Current Right to Buy arrangements are restricting councils from being able to replace homes being sold under the scheme. Right to Buy will quickly become a thing of the past in England if councils continue to be prevented from building new homes and replacing those sold.

“If we are to stand a real chance of solving our housing shortage, councils need the funding and powers to replace any homes sold under Right to Buy quickly and reinvest in building more of the genuine affordable homes our communities desperately need.

“Alongside the ability to borrow to invest in housing, the Autumn Budget needs to hand councils the ability to retain 100 per cent of receipts from sales, combine those receipts with other funding to build replacements and set RTB discounts locally so they reflect the cost of houses in the area.”

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The Scottish Government has ended Right to Buy while the Welsh Government has launched a bill to ban the scheme:



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