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‘Housing emergency’

Council homes sold three times quicker than new ones built
Ryan Fletcher, Thursday, June 29th, 2017


Council houses are being sold off nearly three times as quickly as news ones are built, new figures reveal.

 

Under the Tories’ right-to-buy scheme more than 12,000 council houses – worth more than £930m – have been sold by 72 local authorities since 2014, but only 4,309 were built over the same period.

 

The figures, released after Freedom of Information requests from the Liberal Democrats, appear to contradict promises Tory ministers made for “one for one replacement”.

 

When right-to-buy was expanded in 2011, the Department for Communities and Local Government promised to ensure that “every home sold is replaced”.

 

‘Desperate need’

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said, “The whole premise of selling off hundreds of thousands of homes when there is a desperate need for more council and truly affordable housing is clearly ridiculous.

 

“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.”

 

While local authorities in the capital have sold the most homes because of London’s housing bubble, social housing stock across the UK has also been severely depleted.

 

In Kensington and Chelsea, where the council has been heavily criticised for the Grenfell Tower fire, 46 houses have been sold since 2014 but no new council houses have been built. Waltham Forest sold 345 council homes, but no new homes have been built since 2014.

 

In South Tyneside, which has seen deprivation levels rocket, the council has not replaced any of the 417 houses it has sold. Aberdeen City Council has built 24 homes since 2014, yet has sold more than 20 times that amount.

 

‘Emergency’

Paul Kershaw, who represents housing workers in Unite, described the depletion of affordable housing in the UK as an “emergency”.

 

He said, “The housing crisis is an emergency. To give immediate relief we need to cap rents (not benefit), give private tenants secure tenancies and regulate landlords to give immediate relief.

 

“But we need a massive programme of council house building to really address the shortage.”

 

A Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) spokesman insisted the government had not broken any promises on replacing each right-to-buy sale.

 

He said it was “only additional sales” over a forecasted limit that should be replaced with a new home.

 

The spokesman said, “Every additional home sold under the reinvigorated right-to-buy scheme must be replaced by an additional home.

 

“Local authorities should deliver these additional affordable homes within three years, and so far they have achieved this.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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