The Conservative government’s Housing and Planning Bill will cause at least 80,000 council properties in Britain to vanish by 2020, according to the Local Government Association (LGA), intensifying the nation’s housing crisis.
The LGA predicts councils will be forced to sell off 66,000 homes under the existing Right to Buy scheme by the end of the decade.
It claims this will lead to a further loss of 22,000 council-owned properties. This will add as much as £210 million to families’ living costs as they are forced to move into the expensive private rental sector, it added.
The draft legislation, proposed by Prime Minister David Cameron, aims to extend the number of sites on which starter homes can be built
Publication of the draft bill in October confirmed government ministers plan to introduce a “pay-to-stay” scheme, a system that would force families living in social housing and earning £30,000-£40,000 in London to pay rents nearly as high as those in the private sector.
If passed, the bill would also compel local authorities to sell “high value” housing, either by transferring public housing into private hands or giving the land it sits on to property developers.
Therefore, rents and waiting lists would soar, making it harder for lower-income and middle-income families to afford to live in the capital.
‘Slow death of council housing’
The number of council homes in Britain has already fallen from 5 million in 1981 to 1.7 million in 2014. Critics argue the government’s plans could contribute to the “slow death” of council housing.
“Councils want to help the government shift spending from benefits to bricks and support measures to help people into home ownership but the Right to Buy extension must absolutely not be funded by forcing councils to sell off their homes,” a spokesperson for the LGA told the IB Times.
“As a minimum, we forecast that 88,000 council homes will be sold up to 2020. There is a real risk that complex rules and restrictions will combine with certain aspects of the Housing and Planning Bill to have the unintended consequence of making building replacements almost impossible.”
Supporting the LGA’s claims, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: “The Conservatives try and paint Right to Buy as somehow aspirational but it is actually the slow death of social housing.”
Further commenting on the crisis, the Radical Housing Network (RHN) said it will continue to campaign against the bill, which they believe will spell the end of social housing.