Right to Buy sales fall in England but homes still not being replaced

Right to Buy sales in England have fallen to their lowest level for more than five years, with a fall of 22% in the third quarter of 2018, official figures show.

Between July and September local authorities sold an estimated 2,417 homes under the Right to Buy scheme, down from the 3,115 sold in the same quarter of the previous year.

The figures from the Ministry of Housing, Local Government and Communities (MHLGC) also show that the number of replacement homes built rose 28% year on year to 1,160 but this is short of its pledge to ensure that homes sold are replaced.

It may be that local authorities are waiting on the outcome of a Government consultation on Right to Buy, aimed at changing the policy to allow them to replace more of the homes sold.

The Government lifted Right to Buy discounts to £75,000 in April 2012, and then increased it to £100,000 in London a year later. The discounts now sit at £80,900 nationally and £108,000 in London.

Since then, 72,929 council homes have been sold off at a rate of more than 12,000 homes a year. However, in the first two quarters of 2018/2019, sales have dipped sharply.

The figures also shows that local authorities received approximately £205.3 million from Right to Buy sales, down 17% from the £247.3 million in the same quarter of 2017/2018.

The average receipt per dwelling sold was £84,900 compared with £85,800 in the same quarter of 2017/2018 while there were 1,160 dwellings started on site or acquired, as part of Right to Buy replacement policy, a rise of 28% compared to the same quarter of 2017/2018.

Since the first quarter of 2017, the number of Right to Buy sales has decreased in London and the rest of England and slightly increased in the Metropolitan areas. However, when comparing London to the rest of England, the proportion of sales in London declined at a faster rate and from an earlier period. In the latest quarter, London accounted for 17% of all Right to Buy sales, down by 1% compared to the corresponding quarter in 2017/2018.

Research from the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) shows that more than 150,000 social rented homes have been lost between 2012 and 2017 due to Right to Buy and other factors, and that figure it forecast to reach 230,000 by 2020.

‘We know that the Government is consulting on ways to make it easier for councils to replace the homes they sell under Right to Buy, which is welcome,’ said Terrie Alafat, CIH chief executive.

‘But we still believe ministers should suspend the scheme to stem the loss of social rented homes, remove the barriers stopping councils from replacing homes sold and look at more effective ways to help people access home ownership,’ he added.

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