CIH calls for suspension of right to buy

The leading body for professional staff working in the social housing sector has called on the Government to suspend the right to buy for council housing, to allow the stock of low-cost housing to be built up.

Figures released by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government have shown that between July and September 2018, councils in England sold 2,417 homes under the right to buy scheme, with 1,160 homes started or acquired to replace them during the same period.

Since RTB discounts were increased in April 2012, some 72,929 homes have been sold, while just 20,746 have been started or acquired to replace them

Chartered Institute of Housing chief executive Terrie Alafat said: “Not only are we failing to build enough homes for social rent – right to buy means we are losing them at a time when millions of people need genuinely affordable housing more than ever.

Action required

“Our research shows that we lost more than 150,000 social rented homes between 2012 and 2017 due to right to buy and other factors, and that figure will reach 230,000 by 2020 unless we take action now.”

CIH analysis has shown that RTB is costing councils £300 million a year. Cutting the discounts available by a third could lead to an extra 12,000 homes being built a year, CIH has calculated. But the organisation says the policy should be suspended altogether to stem the loss of social rented homes.

Terrie Alafat said: “We support the principle of helping tenants move into home ownership if that’s what they want, but it cannot be at the expense of other people in need. And we know that the Government is consulting on ways to make it easier for councils to replace the homes they sell under right to buy, which is welcome.

“But we still believe ministers should suspend the scheme to stem the loss of social rented homes, remove the barriers stopping councils from replacing homes sold and look at more effective ways to help people access home ownership.”

By Patrick Mooney, editor