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Right-To-Buy Sales Hit Seven-Year High

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Right-to-buy sales hit seven-year high

More than 12,300 social homes were sold off by councils in England through right-to-buy in 2014-15, official figures show, the highest number in seven years.

Over the same period, the number of new social homes started or purchased by local authorities came to 1,903. Charities said the failure to replace all existing sales showed that extending the policy to housing association tenants would have a significant impact on the number of affordable homes.

Data from the Department for Communities and Local Government showed London boroughs accounted for 34% of sales, with tenants taking advantage of a discount of up to £102,700 on market value.

Elsewhere in the country, tenants were able to buy their properties for up to £77,000 less than the market rate.

You don’t solve an affordable housing crisis by selling off the few we have left
Campbell Robb, Shelter

The figures, which only show the number of sales by local authorities and do not include those by other providers, show that the total number of sales during the year rose to 12,304, compared to 11,261 in 2013-14 and the low of 2,375 recorded in 2009-10.

The department said local authorities in England still owned 1.67m homes, but there had been an increase in the number which had recorded more than five sales per 1,000 dwellings, from one in 2010-11 to 127 in the 12 months to March 2015.

In total, local authorities received £930.2m from the sales, an average of £76,000 for each home sold off. The average rose in the final quarter of the year to £78,000, which is likely to have been driven by the increasing proportion of sales taking place in London.

The figures show that in Lambeth in south London, 100 homes were sold through right-to-buy in the first three months of 2015, followed by nearby Southwark where 92 properties were sold. Over the same period, Southwark started building or acquired 113 new social homes, while in Lambeth the figure was zero.

We want to help anyone who works hard and aspires to own their own home to turn their dream into a reality
Brandon Lewis, housing minister

Outside London, 128 sales were made in Birmingham during the first quarter, while in Leeds there were 91 sales.

Since right-to-buy was launched in the early 1980s almost 2m homes have been sold by councils, many of which have not been replaced.

The government recently announced it would extend the right to buy to 1.3 million housing association tenants, giving them the same discounts available to those in council-owned homes. Since April, the discounts have increased to up to £77,900 outside of London and £103,900 in the capital, and tenants need to have been in council housing for three years to be eligible for the scheme.

The housing minister, Brandon Lewis, said more than 36,000 new homeowners had benefited from the government’s changes to the scheme in 2012, which increased the discounts available, and this was proof that is was fulfilling the aspirations of hard-working people.

He said the figures showed that additional sales due to the changes had all been offset with replacement properties.

“We want to help anyone who works hard and aspires to own their own home to turn their dream into a reality,” Lewis said.

“We are making good on our promise to replace council homes with those sold in the first year of the reinvigorated scheme now being replaced.

“It really is the benchmark of how a one nation government can help hard-working people realise their ambitions and that is why we want to extend it to housing association tenants, so that they too have the chance to own their own home.”

The chief executive of the housing charity Shelter, Campbell Robb, said the figures “show in black and white the government’s complete failure to keep their promise and replace like-for-like the homes sold through right-to-buy.

“It’s no wonder people struggle to believe their recent claim that each home sold under the new right-to-buy proposals would be replaced as well.”

Robb said the extension of right-to-buy would be “hammering the last nail into the coffin of affordable housing”. He added: “You simply don’t solve an affordable housing crisis by selling off the few we have left.”

Gavin Smart, deputy chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing said the government should look at how the current scheme was working before extending it.

“We remain concerned that extending right-to-buy to housing associations will have a significant impact on the contribution they make to the overall supply of housing, as well as the other vital work that they do,” he said.

“At a time when government resources are under such pressure, extending right-to-buy is a comparatively expensive way of offering the opportunity of home ownership to one group of people who already have a secure home. It offers nothing for poorer people living in insecure tenancies in the private rented sector.”

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London boroughs accounted for 34% of sales, with tenants taking advantage of a discount of up to £102,700 on market value.

If tenants could afford to buy London homes, even with £102,700 discount, did they need council housing in the first place?

Edited by Fairyland

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Who would have thought that the prospect of £102.7k in free equity and a media storm pushing houses prices only go up would have tempted people to buy?

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If tenants could afford to buy London homes, even with £102,700 discount, did they need council housing in the first place?

They're probably bein courted and backed with deals from 'savvy' investors.

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FT - Boris Johnson lobbies to lessen impact of social housing sell-off

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/653bdcba-1fd0-11e5-ab0f-6bb9974f25d0.html

"...lobbying the government to convert its plan to offer Right To Buy sales discounts to housing association tenants into an equity loan scheme similar to Help To Buy, in an effort to save councils in the capital’s wealthiest areas from losing much of their social housing...."

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