Bucking the trend on buying council homes

A view of the newly built Eslaforde Gardens council houses off Boston Road in Sleaford in 1965. EMN-141109-113951001
A view of the newly built Eslaforde Gardens council houses off Boston Road in Sleaford in 1965. EMN-141109-113951001

More council houses are being sold under Right to Buy in North Kesteven, bucking the trend across England.

The Local Government Association says there is a “desperate need” to stop sales and invest more in increasing the stock of affordable homes.

But, the latest figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government show that North Kesteven District Council sold 34 council houses under the Right to Buy scheme, between April 2017 and March 2018. It was up from 28 the previous year.

North Kesteven District Council earned £1.99 million from the sale of 34 homes.

Right to Buy was implemented by the Conservative government in 1980, with the aim of helping council house tenants buy their rented homes at a discount. There were 45 applications for Right to Buy in the 12 months to March 2018.

During the period, nine out of every 1,000 houses owned by the council in North Kesteven were sold. The ratio is above the average for England, where eight of every 1,000 council houses were purchased by the tenant.

Judith Blake, a Local Government Association housing spokesperson, said money spent on housing benefit should go towards building new homes to tackle the housing crisis.

She said: “The loss of social housing means that we are spending more and more on housing benefit to supplement expensive rents, instead of investing in genuinely affordable homes. The Government must go beyond the limited measures announced so far, scrap the housing borrowing cap, and enable all councils across the country to borrow to build once more.

“We have long called for reforms to Right to Buy, in order to allow councils to build more homes to set discounts locally, and to keep 100% of receipts from homes sold.”

Nationally, more than 27,000 tenants applied to buy a home from the social housing stock, which includes council and housing association properties.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Right to Buy has helped people who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to afford to buy. Sadly, we’re still building far fewer homes than we’re selling off.

“This has hugely reduced the amount of social housing available, and is nothing short of a disaster when hundreds of thousands of people are homeless and millions are struggling in deeply insecure and expensive private renting.

“There’s an obvious solution: build more social homes and ensure those sold are always replaced. We need 3.1 million new social homes over the next twenty years.”

Nationally, 12,865 council houses were purchased by tenants in 2017-18 - about 600 fewer than the previous year.