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Only 2 homes built to replace the 863 sold off under Right To Buy in Greater Manchester

Housing charity Shelter describes plan the policy as 'stupidity'

Jon Stone
Wednesday 27 May 2015 07:39 BST
(Getty Images)

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”.

“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.

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