Cross-party body London Councils has welcomed the government’s decision to allow local authorities to keep all the money they receive from the sale of their housing stock under the Right to Buy rather than having to give much of it to the Treasury.
Levelling up secretary Michael Gove has informed local authority chief executives across the country of the move, which will cover the financial year just ended and 2023/24.
Darren Rodwell, London Councils executive member for regeneration, housing and planning, said the “new flexibilities” will provide a “shot in the arm for boroughs’ housing ambitions” pointing out that the group, along with the national Local Government Association, has long called for such a change. He added: “It is crucial that every penny raised from council house sales is available locally for replacing those homes.”
Around 300,000 council homes have been sold in the capital since the Conservative government led by Margaret Thatcher introduced the discount entitlement in 1980.
Recent London Councils analysis of borough data found that approximately 166,000 Londoners are living in temporary accommodation, more than the entire population of Oxford and nearly half of them children. It also says the capital’s 32 boroughs currently have 301,000 households on their housing waiting lists.
In 2019, a report by Tom Copley, at that time a Labour member of the London Assembly and now Sadiq Khan’s Deputy Mayor for Housing, found that at least 54,000 dwellings in the capital’s private rented sector used to be council homes and that boroughs were spending over £20 million a year renting some of them back.
“In the face of London’s worsening homelessness crisis, boroughs urgently need more resources for securing the affordable housing our communities are crying out for,’ Rodwell said. “The capital’s housing pressures are the most severe in the country. This intervention is welcome, but we will continue to work with ministers to ensure boroughs get the long-term policy and funding support required for ending the homelessness crisis altogether.”
London Councils welcome Right to Buy rules change as ‘shot in the arm’