Labour warns that the selling off affordable homes in Britain would add £4bn to housing benefit bill over the next 30 years and push vulnerable people into unstable and expensive private rented alternatives.
This argument comes as an opposition analysis of the housing bill is due to be debated in the House of Lords this week.
Housing charity Shelter has objected to the housing bill, which calls for the sale of low-rent housing. According to Shelter, this will result in the loss of 19,000 council homes and 66,500 housing association homes.
Labour MP John Healey, shadow secretary of state for housing, said in the Guardian: “If you sell off genuinely affordable homes and don’t replace them, then people on lower incomes will be forced into more expensive private rented accommodation and this will mean higher housing benefit spending to cover the cost.”
“The Tories’ extreme housing and planning bill will make the deficit in affordable homes much, much worse. It’s an extraordinary assault on what used to be an uncontroversial ambition – that everyone in this country should be able to buy or rent a decent home.”
However, the Conservatives have responded by saying that Labour claims are ‘entirely speculative’ and shortsighted. A spokesperson for the Department for Communities and Local Government said “We have set out the most ambitious vision for housing in a generation, investing £8bn to deliver 400,000 affordable homes. The sale of empty high-value council homes will enable receipts to be reinvested in building new homes that better meet local needs, while housing associations have committed to replacing every home sold through right to buy.”
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Conservatives plan to extend the Tory right to buy policy to housing association tenants and is also keen to see local councils sell off their most valuable housing assets. In return, the government have committed to deliver one-for-one replacements. However, these replacements may not be built immediately or even in the same area. Labour are concerned that this will result in further burdens on the housing benefit bill.
John Healey added: “The number of genuinely affordable homes has plummeted and housing benefit is billions of pounds higher. Over a million working families are now forced to claim support for their housing costs.”