THE Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) has once again called for the suspension of Right to Buy after the latest official figures showed a continued decline in council housing stock.
Figures released by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG)show that local authorities in England sold 2,645 homes under the scheme from October to December 2018. This was an increase of 9.4% on the previous quarter.
However, in the same quarter, only 1,038 replacement homes were started on site or acquired. This is 32% lower than the number of homes started or acquired in the same quarter of 2017-18.
Quarterly right to buy sales are yet to match the pre-financial crisis level, but the number of sales in the last quarter of 2018 is around four times higher than in the year before the Government boosted right to buy with increased discounts in April 2012.
In October last year, CIH produced analysis showing that right to buy discounts had climbed to £1 billion a year, costing local authorities £300 million a year.
According to the organisation’s calculations, reducing discounts by just a third could free up enough funds to deliver an extra 12,000 homes a year. Since the reinvigoration of right to buy, 75,618 homes have been sold, while just 21,890 homes have been started or acquired to replace them.
“These latest figures confirm CIH’s view that the wider costs of Right to Buy exceed its benefits,” said Terrie Alafat CBE, the CIH’s chief executive. “With far more homes being sold than are replaced, Right to Buy is significantly reducing the number of badly needed affordable homes available. Our research last year showed that more than 150,000 of the most affordable rented homes have been lost across England in just five years and predicted that loss will reach nearly 200,000.
“With homelessness and rough sleeping dramatically increasing we cannot afford to lose so many of our most affordable homes.
“This is why CIH is urging the Government to suspend the scheme and invest the savings in more homes for social rent – which is often the only truly affordable option for people on lower incomes. We need to look at fairer ways to help tenants into home ownership, because this is clearly not the way to do it.”