Tory scheme’s shortfall will deprive councils off vital assets
THE London boroughs of Haringey, Islington and Camden have warned that they will need to sell off nearly 3,500 social homes to finance the Tories’ extension of right to buy to housing association tenants.
Defend Council Housing (DCH) chair Eileen Short slammed the sell-off of the councils’ most valuable social properties yesterday, describing it as “a nonsense.”
In Islington, 1,843 homes could be sold in the next five years. Another 1,509 in Camden and about 149 in Haringey could also go, with no guarantees of when the promised like-for-like replacements would be built.
Property sales are expected to fund right-to-buy discounts by compensating housing associations for the loss of their asset and to go towards building replacement homes.
Ms Short said: “This is a complete nonsense. In what way is raiding the housing revenue account, funded by tenants’ rents and taxpayers, to pay off private housing associations legitimate or legal?
“Imagine if it was the other way around.”
In Camden, more than 25,000 households are languishing on the housing register with only about 1,100 truly affordable properties becoming available annually, according to the borough.
“Hand-wringing is not going to do anything. The government has declared war and will kill off the whole tradition of social housing and any other parts of the welfare state.
“Councils need to complain, join together and make a very articulated case,” Ms Short added, referring to a planned DCH summit in central London on June 13.
The big Tory sell-off would “choke” the social housing system, according to Haringey Council. Leader Claire Kober said: “Forcing councils and housing associations to sell off the few affordable homes that remain in areas where prices are skyrocketing will only serve to exacerbate, not resolve, the housing crisis.”
Only one social property has been built for every 10 sold due to the government’s tight restrictions on using money from right to buy sales.
The Star reported on Wednesday that only two social rent homes have been built in Greater Manchester so far to make up for the 863 homes sold off since 2012.