Monday, 29 May 2017

Local authority bids to recover budget deficit

Lambeth sells 10 homes for £1.68m

Lambeth Council attempted to sell more of its social housing stock than any other local authority last month, as it claws back an overspend on last year’s annual budget.

Figures from EIG, which collates data from all auctions across the country, revealed Lambeth made 14 properties available for auction in October, selling 10 homes for £1.68 million. Camden Council raised more money than any other local authority, selling the eight properties that it made available at auction for £2.7 million.

Both authorities said the properties were auctioned to help raise funds to meet the decent homes standards.

Lib Peck, cabinet member for housing and regeneration at Lambeth, said it was the council’s policy to sell off one and two-bedroom flats that were ‘prohibitively expensive’ to repair.

Ms Peck explained: ‘These sales help to fund the refurbishment of empty properties - for every one property sold, we can repair and bring back into use three homes that have lain empty - for the benefit of those in housing need.’

In January this year Lambeth was branded ‘reckless’ by a committee of three councillors who investigated a £6 million overspend in its annual homelessness accommodation budget of £11 million.

Abigail Davies, head of policy at the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: ‘Councils are trying to recoup money either because it is not easy to upgrade the properties being sold or the local authorities in question need to raise the revenue to improve other properties in their stock.’

A spokesperson for London Councils said local authorities were in the business of providing the best quality affordable homes so selling off stock was always a ‘last resort’.

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