Posted by: Carl Brown18/05/2012
A few weeks ago an image on Inside Housing’s front page proclaimed that right to buy properties were selling ‘like hotcakes’.
Councils in London are reporting a surge in applications under the new version of the scheme, which offers discounts of up to £75,000 for council tenants wanting to buy their homes.
Housing minister Grant Shapps has tweeted that the revived scheme is ‘set to be a big success’ and just this week one London council, Wandsworth reported it has received more than 1,000 enquiries since April.
Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the policy, there is undeniably a high level of demand for the revamped product.
This makes it all the more curious that the Communities and Local Government department has sent out template letters to councils in order to more aggressively promote the scheme.
The letters, as reported by Inside Housing this week, suggest councils flag up how much a right to buy mortgage costs per week and urges ‘don’t delay’.
Lenders and landlords have both accused the council of promoting the policy in an irresponsible manner, as the letter does not stress the risks and responsibilities involved in home buying.
So why has the CLG done this?
The important thing to remember about the new right to buy is that it will lead to social rented homes being sold off – and they certainly will not be replaced by social rented homes.
Mr Shapps has promised they will be replaced on a one for one basis, but they won’t be social rented homes – they will be homes let under the ‘affordable’ homes programme at up to 80 per cent of market rates, with security of tenure not necessarily guaranteed.
The government, which has already ended capital funding for new social homes, is intent on running down the nation’s stock of social rented homes in favour of the ‘affordable’ homes model and encouraging more home owners. This is aimed at encouraging aspiration and taps into a fairly widely held view that sees social housing as part of a dependency culture that traps people.
It is perhaps this driver that explains the CLG’s desire to aggressively promote the right to buy. Let’s just hope that the CLG will be just as keen to help councils if a few years down the line right to buy homeowners get into trouble with their mortgage payments.
From Housing matters
Carl Brown looks at regulation, training, board members, pay and a host of other issues that impact the day to day running of social landlords