Monday, 21 April 2014

Southwark leader rules out large-scale sale of stock

The Labour leader of London’s largest local authority landlord has insisted that the council will not sell off half of its stock.

Responding to an independent report into housing in Southwark, council leader Peter John ruled out large-scale sales, saying that ‘it would go against all our beliefs’ if it followed advice to drastically reduce stock.

Southwark Council’s housing commission earlier this week outlined three ways that the council could sustain social housing beyond 2015/16. These were: to reduce the council’s current stock of 39,000 to 20,000 by 2045; to allow the stock to reduce gradually to 30,000 through right to buy and void sales; or to invest substantially in a new build programme to maintain stock at its existing level.

Mr John categorically ruled out the option to halve the stock, adding ‘it will not happen on our watch’.

He said: ‘At a time when Southwark Labour has pledged to build 1,000 new council homes by 2020, it would go against all our beliefs to reduce our stock by 20,000 in the 20 years after that.

‘By ruling this option out immediately I want to move the debate on and ensure we get to the purpose of this report which is to have a mature discussion about the future of council housing. As a council with the largest stock of council housing in London, this issue is too big and too important.’

The year-long study, headed by prominent housing lawyer Jan Luba QC and supported by think tank The Smith Institute, is expected to be seen as offering a potential blueprint for other local authorities considering the future of their housing stock.

‘I hope that other councils and the parties nationally will look at this report as it makes clear the extent of the housing time bomb this country faces,’ continued Mr John.

Earlier, opposition Liberal Democrat councillors had claimed that the report was ‘softening people up for a council home sell-off’.

Liberal Democrat spokesperson Tim McNally also questioned whether the £104,000 report was value for money, claiming ‘it doesn’t tell us a lot we don’t already know’.

Readers' comments (2)

  • Matt Murdock

    It may not tell Cllr McNally much that he doesn't know but it does tell a lot of others in the sector (and wider) what the housing situation is, the stark choices facing us and identifies the reasons why we got into this mess in the first place!

    I hope it stimulates a reasoned debate and moves away from political posturing so that real solutions can be identified.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I agree Matt - i just wonder how reasoned that debate can be when one option has been shelved already. Unfortuanetly, nothing is off the agenda here includign sellign stock as its clear that Southwark have issues with investing enough to maintain their current stock, let alone commit to building 1,000 new homes. The main area i hope there is a debate is around HRA and how the system can be tweaked to make sure LA's have the true freedoms they were promised.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

sign in register

Newsletter Sign-up

More Newsletters



  • Council rejects stock sell off in favour of building

    11 July 2013

    London’s largest local authority landlord has rejected suggestions that it should sell off some of its stock in favour of a large-scale house building programme.

  • The day after

    13 November 2013

  • The battle lines are drawn


    Labour and the Liberal Democrats put housing at the centre of their party conferences, setting out policies they hope will win votes in the next general election. So how will the Conservative Party respond? Nick Duxbury investigates

  • Housing hocus pocus


    Councils can now borrow more to fund new housing. But is George Osborne’s latest trick of an extra £300 million enough to magic up 10,000 affordable homes? Ben Cook investigates

  • Calls for bedroom tax to be scrapped ahead of debate today

    12 November 2013

    Charities and sector figures have called on MPs to scrap the ‘unworkable and unfair’ bedroom tax, as Parliament votes on ditching the policy today.


  • You are where you live


    Stunning views and elegant Georgian architecture aren’t necessarily what you would expect from a homelessness hostel. Caroline Thorpe investigates why one charity thinks a beautiful location is key to its success

  • Housing's IT crowd


    What does it take to keep a landlord’s technology running smoothly? Austin Macauley spends a day in the life of an award-winning IT team to find out

  • A step towards society


    Is a new project in London’s King’s Cross that halves hospital costs the future of mental health supported housing? Jess McCabe investigates

  • Paying the price of silence


    ‘Gagging clauses’ are hard to enforce and should be handled with caution, says Vivienne Reeve, associate at Wragge & Co

  • Splitting up isn’t hard to do


    Rectifying tenants’ service charge inequalities can be a simple process says Charles Ward, principal lawyer at Sutton Council