Tenants show appetite for right to buy
English councils warn sharp rise in sales will leave them unable to replace much-needed homes, Inside Housing survey reveals
Right to buy applications have surged following the government’s decision to increase the discount to £75,000, Inside Housing can reveal.
In London, where discounts have quadrupled in most areas, applications from tenants in April alone have exceeded half the number received in the previous 12 months, leading to fears that councils could lose large swathes of their housing stock.
Based on figures from 18 London boroughs, councils received an average of 39 applications in April, compared with 67 in the whole of 2011. At this rate, each council will receive more than 800 applications this year.
Away from the capital, Birmingham has received 172 applications, compared with 601 in total last year, while Sandwell received 60 applications in April - three times as many as April 2011.
Councils warn a sharp increase in right to buy sales will leave them unable to replace stock, despite government claims that all sales under the revamped programme will be replaced.
‘We could potentially lose a larger number of our best quality stock at a time when we already have a shortage of social homes and 20,000 people on our waiting lists,’ said Ian Wingfield, cabinet member for housing at Southwark Council, where 109 applications have been received in the first month since the increased discounts were announced, compared with 230 last year.
In Hammersmith & Fulham, where the council has actively promoted right to buy, there were 92 applications in April compared with just 39 in the whole of the previous year.
The news comes just a week after Newham Council admitted it had tried to rehouse 500 families outside London because of housing shortages in the borough.
Last month, the government increased the maximum discounts for tenants wanting to buy their council homes from £16,000 to £75,000.
The government has pledged to build a replacement affordable rented home for every property sold. Councils will have the option to keep right to buy receipts to reinvest locally and the government is consulting them over the agreement. However, the Local Government Association fears restrictions over the time they have to deliver the replacements will force them to pool receipts nationally, potentially harming local supply.
‘There is no adequate proposal to replace properties that are being lost,’ said Henri Murison, cabinet member for quality of life at Newcastle Council.
There were 40 applications in Newcastle in April, more than a third of the total in 2011/12.