The latest report from the Department for Communities and Local Government presents Official Statistics on the number of sales of dwellings under the Right to Buy scheme.
According to the figures, over 45,000 council homes have been sold under the Right to Buy scheme since greater discounts began to be offered in 2012. In comparison, only 7,000 replacement council homes have started in this time period, a significant shortfall that will not close the gap and tackle the shortage of social housing any time soon.
The scheme, which allows eligible social housing tenants to buy their house at a reduced price, was introduced in the 1980’s by Thatcher and has proved controversial ever since. Critics accuse it of compounding a housing shortage for those of low income, initiating a national house price bubble and causing displacement through ‘social cleansing’ of traditional communities. Supporters argue that the programme gave millions of households a tangible asset, secured their families finances and by releasing cash to repay Local Authority loans, helped improve the public finances.
Either way, Scottish government will abolish right-to-buy in 2017 and Wales are pushing for the same.
In the report the statistics show that 3,362 homes were sold off between the month of April and June this year, a 21% increase on the same time period last year. During this same period, a mere 422 replacements were started onsite, giving a total of 7,018 starts since the discounts were raised to £75,000 nationally in 2012 and to £100,000 in London the following year. This is a decrease from 737 last quarter, but a rise from the 302 built in the same period last year.
With news of homes being sold off at such a rapid rate, the question remains: will building at this rate meet the government’s pledge to replace all additional homes sold as a result of the increased discounts within three years?
Housing minister, Gavin Barwell commented “From London to Leeds, Right to Buy plays an important part in building a country that works for everyone, helping thousands of people become homeowners for the first time.”