Council backs right to buy and denies City Hall claims of £3million rent costs

PUBLISHED: 07:00 08 February 2019 | UPDATED: 13:56 08 February 2019

The government has been forced to defend its right to buy scheme. Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA Archive

The government has been forced to defend its right to buy scheme. Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA Archive

PA Archive/PA Images

The council has spent more than £3million renting back council homes sold off under right to buy, a study conducted by a Labour London Assembly member has revealed – though Havering disputes those figures.

Tom Copley AM. Picture: JAMES O JENKINSTom Copley AM. Picture: JAMES O JENKINS

A total of 9.6 per cent of the borough’s social housing has ended up in the hands of private landlords with 316 of these homes rented back as temporary accommodation costing Havering £3,035,996 a year.

The right to buy scheme allows council and some housing association lifetime tenants to buy their homes at a lower price.

London Assembly member Tom Copley released the 2018 figures gained via a freedom of information request and published as part of his Right to Buy: Wrong for London report.

It found that 54,000 homes across the capital bought under right to buy are now privately let.

Mr Copley said: “At a time when the need for homes at social rent level far outweighs the numbers being built, it’s reckless to continue to force the discounted sale of council homes.”

But Havering councillor Joshua Chapman, the borough’s cabinet member for housing, told the Recorder the council does not recognise the £3m figure cited by Mr Copley.

Cllr Chapman said; “Right to Buy, introduced by the government, is an essential scheme which provides everyone with the opportunity of owning their own home.

“As a local housing authority our duty is to house families and individuals who qualify for our help.

“This why we are undertaking one of the most ambitious council home building programmes in London.

“It will double our existing social housing stock, and create affordable homes and better communities for our residents.”

A council spokesman revealed the annual cost to the council of renting back right to buy homes is £252,999.70, that there were 924 of the borough’s households in temporary accommodation and that there are currently 2,180 households on the council’s housing waiting list.

Housing minister Kit Malthouse MP said: “This government is determined to make the dream of home ownership a reality for as many families as possible, and to deliver much needed homes in the capital

“We have lifted the borrowing cap for local authorities so they can build more houses in the areas where they are needed the most, and delivered 88,000 new affordable homes in London since 2010.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: On Thursday, February 8, after this article’s initial publication, Tom Copley’s office contacted the Recorder to accept that the £3million figure quoted in the Right to Buy, Wrong for London report was incorrect.

Mr Copley said: “I can clarify that an error was made on our part in calculating this cost, and by implication, the data given by Havering Council is correct.

“I would like to offer my apologies for this mistake.

“Despite this, I would like to reiterate that the premise of the report still stands that local authorities across London are paying tens of millions per year to rent back homes sold under the right to buy”.

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