Local authorities only have enough funds to replace less than a third of the number council homes sold under the government’s controversial right-to-buy scheme over the past six years, new research has found.
Responding to the report, Unite said right-to-buy should be scrapped and called for a major programme of council house construction to be implemented to end the housing crisis.
The Local Government Authority (LGA) report found that councils can only afford to replace 14,000 out of the 60,000 homes sold under right-to-buy since 2012, despite Tory promises that each home sold would be replaced.
The LGA said two-thirds of English councils stand no chance of replacing the number of homes sold under the right-to-buy over the next five years unless the scheme is restructured and councils receive extra funding.
Around 12,000 homes were sold off under right-to-buy last year, however the study found that only 2,000 of them will be replaced by 2023 under the current circumstances.
Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said selling hundreds of thousands of homes when there is a “desperate need need for more council and truly affordable housing is clearly ridiculous”.
Turner said, “In reality the only ones to benefit from right-to-buy are the already rich landlords building housing empires as investments, as more and more people are forced into paying higher and higher private rents.”
He added, “The fact that the Tory’s promise of building one house for every one sold is falling flat, is just another reminder of how ill thought out and reckless the right-to-buy scheme is. They must recognise that the way to resolve the crisis is by putting people to work in decent jobs building council homes.
“A housebuilding programme itself confers economic benefits beyond helping drive down housing costs – our research has shown that for every £1 spent on housing construction, an extra £2.09 is generated in the economy. Each £1 also generates a 56p return to the Exchequer.”
Housing association auctioning
Meanwhile, analysis by the Labour MP for Westminster North, Karen Buck, revealed that housing associations in five central London boroughs have raked in at least £82.3m from auctioning affordable housing since 2013.
The true amount is likely to be significantly more because the analysis only took into account data from one auctioneer.
The auctioning of social housing is part of the broader trend of central London housing associations selling high-value properties to fund new developments in cheaper areas.
Housing association tenants say the developments are often unaffordable or located far away from their families, work places and schools.
Buck told the Guardian, “I’m dealing with a family who are statutorily overcrowded and in the highest medical priority and I haven’t been able to get them moved in over eight years. That’s because housing associations (in general) say they don’t have the stock in the area and yet they’re still selling off homes.”
Across Britain, sales of housing association properties to private landlords have more than tripled since 2001. In total, more than 150,000 homes have been lost from the country’s social housing stock since 2012.