Swindon Tenants Campaign Group Media Release

March 6th 2017

Suspend Right to Buy Sales

Swindon Tenants Campaign Group is calling on Swindon’s MP to press the Housing Minister to suspend Right To Buy sales of council properties. Housing Minister Gavin Barwell recently stated that RTB sales are only “politically justified” if homes sold are replaced. Since they are not being replaced then STCG believes that sales should at least be suspended. In the last four years 40,755 council homes in England have been sold under RTB and only 5,520 have been replaced. In the case of Swindon since 2011/12 to December 2016 285 homes have been lost to RTB, and council stock overall has fallen by 250: from 10,515 to 10,265 in December 2016.

A fall in stock numbers impacts on the homelessness situation because Swindon council has insufficient homes available. Over the last two and a half years the number of households in temporary accommodation has risen from 201 to 359. The number of households placed in private rented accommodation by SBC and local housing associations has risen from 110 to 230 in the last two years. Spending on homelessness in this financial year is expected to be more than £300,000 over budget, virtually double the original budget. This deteriorating situation will only be halted if we stop the decline of available council housing stock and start increasing it.

Martin Wicks said:

STCG is in favour of ending RTB. However, if Mr Barwell means what he says then the question is posed if homes sold are not replaced then shouldn’t sales be suspended where they cannot be? Even the Local Government Association which has a Tory majority has called for councils to have the right to suspend RTB sales if they cannot build sufficient homes to replace them.

The LGA has also demanded that councils should keep 100% of receipts. In 2012 when the new financial system was introduced, Swindon and other councils were given extra ‘debt’ which was supposed to be a final settlement. Why then is the government taking money from the sale of council homes?

The other question posed by Mr Barwell’s statement is, if RTB is only “politically justifiable” if he can replace the homes sold, what possible justification is there for the government to force councils to sell ‘higher value’ homes to pay compensation for housing associations1. If this proposal were to go ahead the scale of lost council homes would increase significantly. There would be even less possibility of replacing the homes sold. The homelessness crisis will be even worse. The proposal to force councils to sell ‘higher value’ homes should be withdrawn.”

Year

RTB sales

England

Council homes built

Council home demolitions

2012-13

5,944

1,360

1,870

2013-14

11,261

910

4,360

2014-15

12,304

1,360

3,040

2015-16

12,246

1,890

3,730

Total

40,755

5,520

13,000

Year

RTB sales

Swindon

2011-12

13

2012-13

40

2013-14

67

2014-15

54

2015/16

55

2016/17 to December

56

Total

285

1The difference between the RTB sale price and the market value.

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