Extension of ‘right to buy’ will put more pressure on social housing

There are real dangers the government’s plans to boost home ownership through an extension of the right to buy scheme will lead to an even greater shortage of social housing for those in most need. The system is already at breaking point after the sale of council properties. Waiting lists for council housing are immensely long. Croydon council’s website states there are ‘almost 5,000 households waiting for social housing’ with ‘around only 800 available lettings available each year.’

Although the government has stated that there will be a ‘one-for-one replacement’ for each social home sold, research from the National Housing Federation shows this would be difficult to achieve in practice.

Roni Marsh, our Money Advice Team Leader, explains:

“Put simply, if properties are sold to tenants at a discount, there won’t be enough income from sales to build or buy new properties in the same quantity. Those homes will be lost for the next generation.”

A shortage of social housing will force people into unaffordable private rentals and/or out of the area, both of which will have significant impacts on individuals, families and entire communities.

Roni Marsh commented:

“Social housing is supposed to be affordable housing for people on low incomes so they can live in the area where they work rather than having to travel long distances. It’s for the key workers – the people who work in hospitals, drive buses, serve us in restaurants. Private rentals in places like London are astronomically high, set against a backdrop of the cost of living crisis, and if tenants can’t keep up with the rent, we’re likely to see an increase in the numbers of people being evicted. The alternative where key workers are forced to move somewhere cheaper means many of those roles simply won’t get done.”

Jeinsen Lam, Housing Solicitor, said of the government’s plans:

“Extending right to buy is a misconceived policy that will lead to more social housing stock ultimately ending up in the hands of buy to let landlords, increase social housing waiting lists and exacerbate the cost of living crisis. At a time where tenants can spend over 23% of their income on rent the decision to focus on right to buy rather than building more affordable homes will condemn more people to the revolving door of evictions and homelessness that is rife within the private sector.”