The Government’s claim to be replacing council homes sold off under the Right To Buy scheme is not being met, according to figures released by a housing charity.
Every home sold at a large discount under Right To Buy is supposed to be replaced by another affordable home, according to pledges made by ministers.
But of the 863 homes sold off in Greater Manchester since 2012 when the one-for-one replacement promise was first made, only two replacements have been constructed, according to the housing charity Shelter.
The homes in question are two semi-detached halves of a single building and are located on a cul-de-sac in a suburb of Wigan, the charity says.
“Probably the hardest hit by the failure to replace Right to Buy homes is the heart of the Northern Powerhouse itself, Greater Manchester, and the conurbation’s experience should set off screaming alarm bells about what may happen under the new scheme,” Shelter policy officer John Bibby wrote.
“863 social rented homes have been sold in Greater Manchester since 2012, when the promise of one-for-one replacements was first made. Yet of those only two have been replaced: two connected semis on a cul-de-sac in a Wigan suburb.”
Communities Secretary Greg Clark today confirmed today that the policy would be further extended to Housing Associations in tomorrow’s Queen’s Speech.
The charity described the policy, which involves selling off affordable housing at well below their market cost, as “stupidity”.
“The line that stupidity is repeating the same thing and expecting a different result has become something of a cliché. But those who think that you can solve a housing affordability problem by selling affordable homes should take a long, hard look at Greater Manchester’s recent experience and think again,” Mr Bibby concluded.
Nationally work has started to replace only one in ten homes sold off since the replacement scheme was introduced. The charity says the shortfall is so large because big discounts mean the money is not enough to build now homes after additional costs.
The charity’s claim comes after an analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies that found extending Right To Buy would lead to more debt and fewer affordable homes.
The respected institute descried the coalition’s record on delivering replacement housing as “less-than impressive”.
What does five more years of the Tories mean for Britain?
What does five more years of the Tories mean for Britain?
1/8 Welfare payments will be slashed
One of the most controversial parts of the Conservative manifesto was to cut benefits for the working age poor by £12 bn over the next three years. But during the campaign they only said where £2 bn of these savings would come from. That leaves £10 bn still to find. Some experts think the only way they can close that gap is by means testing child benefit – with millions of families losing out
2/8 There will be tax cuts for those in work and those who die
The Tories will increase the threshold at which the 40p rate of tax becomes payable to £50,000 by 2020. They haven’t said so but it is also likely that at some point in the next five years they will abolish that 45p rate of tax altogether for the highest earners. They also want to increase the effective inheritance tax threshold for married couples and civil partners to £1m
3/8 There will be an in/out EU referendum in 2017
The next two years are going to be dominated by the prospect of a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. First off David Cameron has the daunting task of negotiating a deal with other EU leaders an acceptable deal that he can sell to his party so he can go into the referendum campaigning for a ‘yes’ vote. This may be unachievable and it is possible that the Tories may end up arguing to leave. Opinion polls show Britain is divided on EU membership, one poll this year showed 51% said they would opt to leave compared to 49% who would vote to stay in
4/8 There will be more privatisation of the NHS
Having won the election the Tories now have a mandate to go further and faster reforming the NHS. In order to make cost savings there is likely to be greater private involvement in running services, while some smaller hospitals may lose services they currently provide like A&E and maternity units
5/8 There will be many more free schools – and traditional state schools will become a thing of the past
The Tories plans to create 500 new free schools and make 3,000 state schools become academies. They will also carry on reforming the Department of Education and remove more powers from local authorities over how schools are run
6/8 On shore wind farms will be a thing of the past and fracking will be the future
Government spending on renewable energy is under real threat now the Lib Dems are no longer in power with the Tories. Subsidies are likely to be slashed for off-shore wind farm and other green energy supplies. Meanwhile there will be generous tax break for fracking as ministers try and incentivise the industry to drill for onshore oil and gas
7/8 There maybe more free childcare – but not necessarily
In the campaign the Tories pledged to double the amount of free early education for three- and four-year-olds from 15 hours a week to 30. The extra hours would only be offered to working families where parents are employed for at least eight hours a week. However they have not said where the money will come from to fund the pledge
8/8 Workers' rights could be reduced
The Tories want to slash business regulation, merge regulator and cut costs. The Lib Dems stopped them from reducing the employment rights of workers in power – but these are now under threat
“There is a risk that these policies will lead to a further depletion of the social housing stock – something the proposal explicitly seeks to avoid,” it said in a research note.
A statement released today confirmed that the Government was still on paper committed to replacing housing association homes sold off.
“Our Housing Bill will offer over a million people a helping hand onto the housing ladder. That is what a government for working people is about – making sure people have the security they need to build a brighter future for them and their families,” Mr Clark said.
A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesperson told the Independent:
“The Right to Buy helps thousands of people and families who aspire to own their own home.
"To date, more than 33,000 new homeowners have been created since the scheme was reinvigorated in 2012 and every additional home sold is being replaced with a new affordable home for a new social tenant. This means nearly £730 million in sales receipts have been reinvested in affordable house building – with another £1.7 billion set to be levered in over the next 2 years.
"More council housing has been built since 2010 than in the previous 13 years. Councils have three years to deliver these new homes from when the property is sold and we urge them to take this forward as quickly as possible."
Manchester City Council did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Right to Buy for council houses introduced by Margaret Thatcher’s government in 1980 and gave tenants the right to purchase their homes at substantial discounts.
Since 1980, almost 1.9 million council properties have been sold through Right to Buy in England and the total social housing stock has fallen by 26% since the first full year the policy came into effect.Reuse content