Saturday, 05 September 2015

Boris Johnson told to call for suspension of right to buy in London

Boris Johnson has been told to lobby for a suspension of right to buy on new council homes in the capital in a London Assembly report released today.

The housing committee has called for councils to be given a ‘right not to sell’ where appropriate, and said the government should impose a moratorium on the sale of all new family-sized council homes in London.

Despite ‘firm opposition’ from Conservative members, the committee said the London mayor should take a stand over the ‘egregious consequences’ of the sale of council houses.

Tenants in the capital have been offered a £100,000 discount since March, reinvigorating the right to buy scheme.

But the report says councils are struggling to replace the homes, as it takes 1.6 right to buy sales to build one private home.

It also criticises the ‘absurd situation’ of councils having to rent back old stock from private landlords who ‘abused the system’ by buying the house and then letting it.

Councils are also afraid any new builds would quickly be sold off under the scheme.

The report, Right to build, also calls for council borrowing caps to be lifted and for the Mayor to assess the impact of the affordable rent regime.

Borrowing caps, imposed by the Treasury, to limit national debt, mean boroughs are torn between the need to invest in improving current housing standards and building housing suitable for low-income households, the report says.

New research conducted for the report suggests most London councils would like the caps lifted.

The report also says land owned by public bodies, including the GLA and NHS should be made available to boroughs at a rate that is viable for building new housing suitable for lower-income families. 

Darren Johnson, chair of the housing committee, said: ‘It is likely only half the number of homes will be built this year by councils than were sold last year via right to buy. Measures are needed now to give London councils the support needed to allow them the right to build.’

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