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Right to Buy should be more flexible

Words: Laura Edgar
Housing / Shutterstock_227591032

The next government should adopt a more flexible approach to the Right to Buy scheme, say councils.

A new report – Keeping Pace: Replacing Right To Buy Sales (pdf) carried out by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), the Local Government Association (LGA) and the National Federation of ALMOs (NFA), suggests that most local authorities expect to replace half or fewer of the homes they sell under Right to Buy.

According to government figures, 11,260 homes were sold under Right to Buy between 2013 and 2014, while from 2012 to 2013, 5,994 were sold.

Despite the increase in sales, 73 per cent of councils that responded to the survey say the current system only allows them to replace half or fewer of homes they have sold, with 12 per cent saying they will not be able to replace any.

This, CIH, the LGA and NFA say, hinders the efforts of councils to find homes for residents on their waiting lists, of which there are nearly 1.4 million.

Therefore, the report argues that “it is imperative that councils have the powers to replace housing sold through Right to Buy quickly and effectively”.

In response, CIH, the LGA and NFA are calling on the next government to allow local authorities more flexibility to make maximum use of the receipts from Right to Buy sales.

To achieve this, the groups propose “giving authorities the freedom to use Right to Buy receipts to meet more than 30 per cent of the cost of building replacement homes”.

Additionally, CIH, the LGA and NFA also urge that the Treasury should agree to “forgo its share of receipts so that 100 per cent of the revenue raised from sales is retained and reinvested”; that the government grants individual local authorities the freedom to reduce discounts locally, and that the government continues to monitor progress in replacing homes sold under Right to Buy.

Gavin Smart, interim chief executive at CIH, said: “Since its inception, Right to Buy has helped millions of people become homeowners, but there are many more who remain in housing need.

“Councils could be replacing many more homes if complex funding arrangements on the current Right to Buy scheme were changed.

“It is crucial that every home sold is replaced - a few simple reforms would give councils a real fighting chance of achieving this.”