Right to Buy is a 'disaster for London' according to London Assembly member Darren Johnson

Right to Buy figures 'farcical'

Right to Buy figures 'farcical'

First published in News
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More than 170 council homes have been sold under Right to Buy in Barnet, according to new figures.

Right to Buy is a scheme that allows council tenants to buy their council home at a discount. Councils are required to use the receipts from the sales to build new homes within three years.

In the last two years, 172 council-owned properties have been sold to their tenants in Barnet, just some of the 4,912 sold across London.

Councillor Tom Davey, chairman of the Barnet Borough Council's housing committee, said the figures didn't show a drop-off in sales between 2008 and 2012, which preceded an increased government discount introduced in mid-2012, leading to a "dramatic rise in sales".

He said: "We have responded to this by beginning to deliver a programme that will more than replace the sold units, identifying sites for some 300 new social houses - of which three have already been completed, a further 27 have planning permission and another 13 are coming before the planning committee next month. This is an on-going and accelerating programme we are working closely with Barnet Homes to deliver, but of course there has been a time lag as the plans negotiate the necessary process. These properties are additional to the affordable homes being delivered through our regeneration schemes."

But Darren Johnson, London Assembly Green Party member, said the figures showed that "Right to Buy is a disaster for London".

He said: "A lot of council homes sold today will be in the hands of private landlords tomorrow. Across London, almost 5,000 council homes have been lost in the past two years, with fewer than one in six replacement homes started using the receipts.

"Fewer low rent homes will drive more low paid people out of London. The Mayor of London should lobby for it to be scrapped, and for councils to be allowed to borrow to invest in building many more."

Jasmine Parsons, from Our West Hendon, a community group that campaigns on housing issues, said: "It’s farcical. There are not enough homes, too many have been sold off. They haven’t replaced the properties in the previous 30 to 40 years.

"The only way we will resolve the issue is by building more social housing. The housing issue is getting worse. It’s costing the council more to put people in private homes."

West Finchley’s Labour representative Cllr Kath McGuirk, a member of the council’s housing committee, said: "We need a combination of affordable homes and rented property. We are pricing out local people, and we will become a transient borough. It’s not good for the local economy.

"Housing is key to the local economy. Get housing wrong and it’s a disaster, but get housing right and it’s a huge benefit. This is 2014, not 1814. We seem to have gone backwards."

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