‘Half-baked’ government policy to blame for mass council housing sell-off, says council

General view of Wybourn estate taken from Manor Lane 25/5/13
General view of Wybourn estate taken from Manor Lane 25/5/13
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‘Half-baked, headline-grabbing’ government policy is to blame for the fact that 89 per cent of council houses sold under Right to Buyin Sheffield have not been replaced, according to the city council.

The authority’s cabinet member for housing has hit out after government figures revealed 749 council houses have been sold by Sheffield Council since 2012-13 but just 79 have been built to replace them – meaning 89 per cent of homes sold have not been replaced.

Louise Haigh MP outside Parliament

Louise Haigh MP outside Parliament

It is the third-highest sell-off rate of Right to Buyhomes in England, according to the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Jayne Dunn, cabinet member for housing at the council, said: “This is a consequence of the Tories’ obsession with selling off our council housing.

“It is a problem created by the Government, which does not give councils enough funding through receipts from Right to Buy to replace the stock that is lost.

“This is why we have called on the Government to allow us to fully re-invest money raised from sales in new council housing in the city, rather than having to hand over a sizeable proportion to the Treasury.

“This is a national problem. Right-to-buy has caused great difficulties for councils across the country, especially in the north where lower property values mean the receipt income generated isn’t sufficient to build a replacement home for every one sold under the right-to-buy.

“This policy simply does not work in places like Sheffield.

“Sadly, this Government has a habit of making half-baked, headline-grabbing housing policy, like extending the Right to Buyto housing associations, without thinking through the consequences.

“It is clear the Government’s plan to sell off more council homes to fund the extension of the Right to Buyto housing associations will result in fewer social homes.

“We need more not less social housing in Sheffield, which is why we are planning to have replaced 1,000 homes by 2019-20.”

The Government pointed to a scheme set up to ensure sold council houses are replaced ‘one for one’, which it says has led to 3,644 houses being built nationally against 3,054 sell-offs in the first year of the scheme.

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “We want to help anyone who works hard and aspires to own their own home to turn their dream into a reality.

“So it is right that as high- value council homes become empty they should be sold to fund new affordable house building in the same area.

“Every home sold will be replaced on a one-for-one basis.”