Right to Buy scheme’s effects on Council House Building

Despite what you might hear in the media, local councils across England and Wales built more council housing in 2018/19 than any other year since 1993.  The numbers are likely to increase further as last year the Government lifted the housing borrowing cap, allowing local authorities to borrow money to build new homes. This followed several years of lobbying by the Local Government Association (LGA).

However, the main barrier to council house building is now the Right to Buy (RTB) scheme that allows council tenants the right to purchase their home. Whilst this has been hugely popular since its introduction in 1980, allowing many thousands of families to own their own house or flat, councils only receive a third of the money from each property sold, with the rest going to the Government.

With the other costs involved in selling under RTB, land purchase and the building of new homes, this has meant that for every five homes sold under the scheme local authorities have only been able to build one new one. Clearly this is unsustainable and is affecting their ability to provide housing for homeless and vulnerable families, with Havering Council now resorting to buying properties on the open market as well as building their own.

Whatever the makeup of Parliament following the forthcoming election, we will be looking for our local Administration to join with others in the LGA to continue to push for local authorities to be able to keep 100% of RTB receipts and give us the ability to build the new homes we need in the borough. This will hopefully be something that all of Havering’s political groups can agree on. How many we need and where we build them will obviously be a more contentious issue.

Cllr John Tyler

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