Leeds City Council replacing fewer homes than are sold through Right to Buy scheme

Leeds City Council is replacing fewer homes than are sold through the Government's Right to Buy scheme, figures suggest.

Thursday, 16th April 2020, 5:00 pm

The Local Government Association says councils should be given more power to build new homes in the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, which has put many development projects on hold across the country.

Data from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government reveals that 143 council homes were privatised through Right to Buy in Leeds last year – 16 more than were sold in 2018.

Councils are expected to replace Right to Buy homes on a one-for-one basis, but can only use 30 per cent of the receipts from properties sold to cover the cost of replacements.

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Leeds City Council is replacing fewer homes than sold through right to buy

In 2019, Leeds City Council acquired or began construction on 14 replacement homes for those sold previously.

Different figures from the MHCLG reveal that in 2019, 2,980 new homes in the area were started or completed by private companies.

Right to Buy was implemented in 1980 by Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government with the goal of helping longstanding council house tenants buy their rented homes at a discount.

The scheme offers discounts of up to £84,200 outside London, depending on how long a tenant has lived at the property.

Nationally, 9,986 homes were sold through Right to Buy last year, while 5,811 replacement homes were acquired or started.

David Renard, the Local Government Association's housing spokesman, says the government needs to take action to ensure work on affordable homes can continue as planned after the coronavirus pandemic, with less restriction on how councils can use proceeds from Right to Buy sales.

He added: "We are calling for a temporary extension of the time given to commence planning permissions that would otherwise lapse over the coming weeks.

“This would enable construction activity to deliver new homes to start again quickly, when it is safe to do so, without the need to potentially have to start the planning process again.

“The government should also urgently extend the time limit for spending Right to Buy receipts from three years to five years, to ensure that many planned council housing projects that are currently on hold can continue to go ahead at the appropriate time.

“As part of the country’s recovery from coronavirus, to deliver the housing the country needs, government should give councils the powers to build homes again and reform Right to Buy so councils can keep receipts in full to invest in new housing, and set discounts locally.”

An MHCLG spokeswoman said Right to Buy has helped more than 121,000 residents to own their own home nationally since 2010.

"We’ve given councils the freedom to be able to build more social homes through abolishing the Housing Revenue Account borrowing cap," she said.

“We’re working to get more people on the housing ladder, investing £12.2 billion next year alone to build many more affordable homes across England."