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Call for change so councils can build more homes

The Local Government Association is urging Chancellor Sajid Javid to relax the financial restrictions governing Right to Buy (RTB) and allowing councils in England to keep all the receipts they get from selling council homes.

Currently local authorities can only retain a third of the money with the rest going to the Treasury. It is argued that they could use the money to build more homes for the social housing sector as many cannot afford to do so.

It says that just a fifth of the homes sold through Right To Buy between 2011/2012 and 2017/2018, equal to 11,300, were replaced, around 58,000 homes for social rent were lost over that period.

Official figures also show that local authorities in England sold 11,833 homes under last year but only built 2,560 to replace them while at their peak sales in England hit 167,123 in 1982/1983, when local authorities built just under 32,000 new homes.

While councils in England are building more homes today than the historic low of a mere 60 across the entire country in 2000, a repeat of the 136,000 figure recorded in 1970 is very unlikely.

‘Current arrangements are restricting councils from being able to replace homes being sold under the scheme. This loss of social rented housing risks pushing more families into the private rented sector, driving up housing benefit spending and rents and exacerbating our homelessness crisis,’ said Judith Blake, the LGA’s housing spokesperson.

‘There are millions of people on council waiting lists and councils can further get on with the job of building the new homes that people in their areas desperately need if they are able to keep all RTB receipts to replace any homes sold,’ she added.

She pointed out that while Right to Buy continues to enable many families to achieve the
dream of getting on the housing ladder and owning their own home, it urgently needs reform.