Labour should demand the suspension of Right to Buy Sales

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This is a letter to John Healey, Shadow Housing Minister

Dear John

Labour should demand the suspension of Right to Buy Sales

As you know Teresa Pearce, when she was in your current post, made a commitment that Labour would suspend RTB. She said that the policy “could only make sense in a time of surplus, in a time of shortage it makes no sense at all”.

Housing Minister Gavin Barwell has recently said that RTB is only “politically justifiable” if homes sold are replaced by new homes built. Since those homes sold are not being replaced then should not sales be suspended? Over the last 4 years the number of council homes in England have declined by 82,000. Only 5,520 replacement homes have been built, less than the 13,000 council homes demolished (see table below). There are only 1.61 million council homes left in England.

We would suggest that in the light of Barwell’s statement Labour should demand that the government suspends RTB sales and makes this a campaigning issue. Even the Tory majority LGA has called for councils to be allowed to suspend RTB sales where they cannot replace them. More

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Suspend Right to Buy Sales

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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. More

Housing Minister retreats on RTB sales?

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The magazine Inside Housing reports that Housing Minister Gavin Barwell has said that the Right to Buy policy ‘is only politically justifiable’ if the government is delivering replacement homes. At the Communities and Local Government Select Committee Barwell said he would reassess the rules on receipts because future government projections suggest that they will not be able to replace the homes sold.

I do want to look at the rules in relation to RTB receipts…because my own view is that RTB is a good thing but it’s only politically justifiable if I deliver a replacement.”

Barwell’s statement begs the question if housing stock sold is not being replaced then shouldn’t RTB sales be halted? This writer is in favour of RTB being ended. However, supporters of council housing should pick up on Barwell’s words and press their councils and their MPs to demand that if the Minister thinks RTB is unjustified unless sold homes are replaced, then councils should have the right to suspend sales if they cannot replace them. More

Swindon Tenants Campaign Group Newsletter February 2017

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Our February 2017 Newsletter dealing with the proposal to rob the Housing Revenue Account of Funds to bolster Swindon Council’s troubled General Fund, by transfering garages and some shops into the General Fund, resulting in the loss of £1.3 million income. Also included, our Pamphlet, The case for cancelling council housing debt, Right to Buy sales, and “Treat claimants with respect”.

Download a copy here: campaign-group-news-feb-2017

 

STCG welcomes Labour commitment to suspension of Right to Buy sales

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Swindon Tenants Campaign Group welcomes Labour’s commitment to suspend Right to Buy, announced by Shadow Housing Minister Teresa Pearce. STCG has long argued for scrapping RTB as Scotland and Wales have now done. Whilst Labour’s commitment falls short of that we welcome Teresa Pearce’s statement. She is certainly right that given the housing shortage there is no justification for selling Council homes. So adopting a policy of suspending it is a step in the right direction. She told the conference that RTB “could only make sense in a time of surplus, in a time of shortage it makes no sense at all”.

Since the ‘enhanced RTB’ was introduced in 2012, with increased discounts, over 45,000 Council homes in England have been sold off. During that time local authorities have managed only 5,731 starts on site and acquisitions (i.e. replacements by building or buying). Under the coalition government the number of council homes in England declined by 143,000. Demolition of 16,570 Council homes was more than double the number of new ones built under the coalition.

In Swindon, in the four years since the introduction of the ‘enhanced RTB’, 216 Council homes have been sold. Swindon Council is not replacing these. It has a programme of building 104 homes but when you take account of the demolition of Sussex Square the number falls to 70 additional homes. Hence the stock is declining year on year. More

Preparing their excuses beforehand

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Why did Cameron say that Housing Associations were ‘part of the public sector’?

How could a man with a brain describe Housing Associations as part of the public sector? They are private businesses, most often, registered as charities. Yet David Cameron has described them as part of the public sector. Well, he certainly has a brain, of sorts, so why would he make this patently absurd statement? Did he not think we would notice?

The problem is that the government has got itself into a bit of a pickle. It is proposing to force Housing Associations to apply ‘right to buy’ to its homes; forcing them to sell off their homes at big discounts to the sitting tenants. How can they force private businesses to sell their homes and at a price less than their value? Imagine the furore if Labour demanded the ‘right to buy’ be applied to the private rented sector. The Tories would scream about expropriation. What about the sanctity of private property? How, they would say, could you force a private home owner (who rents out their property) to sell it? But that is exactly what they are proposing to do with Housing Associations. The only difference is they accept the need to give them some compensation. More

‘Right to Buy’ sales: the government’s ‘one for one replacement’ scam

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Brandon Lewis, the latest in a long list of short-lived housing ministers since 2010 has issued a press release on ‘right to buy’ sales. It is a classic example of using statistics to obscure the real situation. Mr Lewis, as with the previous housing ministers under the coalition government has a problem. The coalition spoke of ‘one for one’ replacement of homes sold under their new version of RTB with increased discounts. However, as we shall see, this did not mean replacement of all homes sold, as the term would seem to imply. Since the scheme was introduced in April 2012 there has been a significant gap between the numbers sold and the numbers replaced.

Like any dishonest propagandist you have to weigh Lewis’s words carefully. Take these.

“Today’s figures (25 June 1015) also show that 3,337 new starts and acquisitions have been made since the scheme was reinvigorated in 2012. This means that the additional homes sold in the first year of the scheme are already being replaced on a one for one basis nationally.” More

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