Private Eye | Housing News: #RightToBuy

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No. 1425 | 19 August – 01 September 2016

Housing News: #RightToBuy

Like those “buy one, get on free” offers in the supermarket, the Government’s promise of one-for-one replacement of homes sold under Right To Buy has always’s looked too good to be true.

The cornerstone of what David Cameron [who he? Ed] called a “housing revolution” was in reality political cover for increasing the discounts in England to encourage more tenants to buy. The small print revealed that “one-for-one” applied only to additional sales on top of those already forecast. That, plus the time lag between sales and replacement, has enabled successive housing ministers to claim they are meeting the pledge, despite figures reported in previous Eyes showing many more sales than new homes.

Now even ministers may struggle to make that claim.

The Local Government Association [LGA] says replacements fell by 27% in 2015/16 to just 2,055, while sales totalled 12,246. That one-for-six rate suggests that the majority of the 66,000 homes that are expected to be sold by 2020 will not be replaced. An independent assessment by the National Audit Office had already concluded that replacements will have to quintuple to meet Cameron’s pledge. [All the above applies only to England; Scotland has just abolished the Right To Buy to protect social housing for future generations, and Wales is set to follow suit]

None of this bodes well for a second housing revolution promised in the 2015 Conservative manifesto: the extension of Right To Buy to Housing Association tenants, with discounts paid for by sales of the most valuable third of council homes as they fall vacant. This too comes with a “one-for-one” promise, but it does not mean “like-for-like”. Replacements could be at higher “affordable rents” or for shared ownership, or even starter homes – and they do not have to be in the same areas as the home sold.

The net result? Even fewer genuinely affordable homes for rent.

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