There is evidence in the news that Right-To-Buy has been gaining momentum in London. According to a report by The Guardian, nearly 113,000 council homes may be sold off to help finance the government’s controversial plans to extend the right-to-buy scheme, provided by an analysis from housing charity Shelter. The government want to extend the scheme to 1.3 million housing association tenants. The charity also calculates that if prices for homes were set at a regional level, unaffordable towns such as Oxford could be set at the same thresholds as places such as Hastings where property is much cheaper.
Throughout England, most towns and cities will be hit by this mass sell-off of homes, but it is certain boroughs of London that will see the highest concentration of sold-off council homes. It has been noted that Kensington and Chelsea will have 97% of the council housing stock sold if it becomes vacant; in Cambridge nearly half would be sold, and nearly a fifth in York. According to another report, Camden in London would be the most affected, with more than 11,700 homes eventually facing a forced sale – almost half of the council housing stock there. Overall, Shelter estimated that 112,883 or around 1 in 14 council homes in England could face a forced sale.
This extension in the scheme was one of the driving forces in the Conservative government’s election manifesto. Ministers have said that housing associations will be reimbursed with the money raised by forcing local authorities to sell off their most expensive housing stock as it becomes vacant, making sure that the affordable properties which are sold are replaced.
This move, however, has left a bad taste in the mouths of housing associations, and critics of the extension of the scheme have questioned whether these homes that are sold off will actually be replaced. They believe that the government is selling empty promises. Shelter said that there could be a discrepancy when homes are sold, as there could still be a funding shortfall of around £2.4 billion over 4 years. The charity’s chief executive, Campbell Robb, stated that selling off ”large swathes of the few genuinely affordable homes we have left” would prompt a further decline in the housing market. He also criticised the government’s plans, and said that they need to ”scrap this proposal and start helping millions of ordinary families struggling with sky-high housing costs.”
The government are currently figuring out solutions to appease all people when it comes to buying houses, but their plans for extending right-to-buy may be putting low income families at a disadvantage. London’s future could see less council housing in order to cater for the controversial scheme.