Charity warns Right to Buy will cut 113,000 council homes

Kensington and Chelsea will lose 97 per cent of its social housing stock


Homelessness charity Shelter has released new analysis suggesting that the government’s Right to Buy plans could lead to the sell-off of almost 113,000 council homes across the UK. The government plans to allow housing association tenants to buy their own homes at a discount, depleting affordable social housing. It means homes worth more than a certain threshold will be sold to the private sector once they become vacant.

Today Shelter has warned that these plans could see around one-in-14 (6.8 per cent) council homes in England facing a forced sale. In some London boroughs social housing will almost disappear – in Kensington and Chelsea, for example, 97 per cent of all council-housing stock would have to be sold to the private sector once vacant. In Camden, almost half of social housing would be affected.

Shelter’s chief executive Campbell Robb said:

“More and more families with barely a hope of ever affording a home of their own and who no longer have the option of social housing, will be forced into unstable and expensive private renting.

‘The government needs to scrap this proposal and start helping the millions of ordinary families struggling with sky high housing costs.”

The government has insisted that it will build new homes to compensate for these losses, but FoI requests by Labour group housing spokesman Tom Copley found that over the next ten years 1.5 council homes are expected to be lost for every new home that is built in London. In outer London councils expect to lose two homes for every new build home.

It is hard to see how much worse things can get for people in need of social housing. In Kensington and Chelsea, between April 2014 and the end of March 2015, there were only 502 properties available for the council to let.

The borough’s website states ‘Unless you have high priority for housing, it is unlikely that we will ever be able to offer you social housing’, If Shelter’s analysis is correct, then social housing will become obsolete for people living in this area.

Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward

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