THE Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) has urged ministers to suspend the sale of council homes through right to buy while England still has some left.
The latest official figures reveal that the sale of council homes under right to buy continues to outstrip new supply, prompting fresh calls for the scheme to be suspended.
Right to buy has been scrapped in Scotland and Wales but continues apace in England; earlier in the summer, the UK Government launched a pilot programme in the Midlands for the so-called voluntary right to buy that would extend the scheme to housing association properties.
Latest figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) show that 2,452 homes were sold by councils in England under the right to buy scheme during April to June 2018. However, only 837 homes were started or acquired to replace them using receipts from the scheme.
Since right to buy discounts were increased in April 2012, 69,467 homes have been sold while only 18,958 have been started or acquired to replace them. A one-for-one replacement has long been promised to sweeten the right to buy programme, but this has consistently failed to materialise, resulting in the inexorable decline in the availability of council housing stock.
“Not only are we failing to build enough new homes for social rent, we are losing them at a time when we need them more than ever,” said Melanie Rees, head of policy at the CIH. “Our analysis shows that we lost more than 150,000 social rented homes between 2012 and 2017 due to right to buy and other factors, and that figure will reach 230,000 by 2020 unless we take action now.
“We support the principle of helping tenants move into home ownership, but it cannot be at the expense of other people in need. We need to look at fairer ways to help tenants into home ownership, because this is clearly not the way to do it.
“We know that the government is consulting on ways to make it easier for councils to replace the homes they sell under right to buy, which is welcome – but we still believe ministers should suspend the scheme to stem the loss of social rented homes and look at more effective ways to help people access home ownership.”