Luton Borough Council builds more housing than that being sold off under Right To Buy

Luton Borough Council is one of a minority of local authorities building more social housing than that being sold off under Right To Buy, it has been revealed.

Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 11:44 am
Updated Thursday, 6th May 2021, 1:50 pm
Housing (stock image)

This bucked the national trend, with housing charity Shelter saying Right To Buy has "torn a hole" in the UK's social housing supply.

Data from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government reveals that 52 council homes were privatised through Right to Buy by Luton Borough Council last year. However, the council also acquired or began construction on 70 replacements in 2020.

This makes it one of just a few dozen councils throughout England to do so.

Right to Buy was introduced in 1980 to help council and housing association tenants buy their home at a discount.

The maximum level of the discount was raised in 2012 and now stands at £84,600 outside London.

Across England, 94,000 homes have been sold through Right to Buy since then, with just 31,000 (33%) replacement houses acquired or started.

As of April 1, councils can use 40% of the receipts from properties sold to cover the cost of replacements.

However, they can now instead use the cash to fund schemes to help people buy houses – either through shared ownership or the discounted First Homes scheme for first-time buyers.

Rachelle Earwaker, an economist at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: "The latest data seems to indicate that the uneven impact of the pandemic is likely driving down the demand for purchasing Right to Buy homes.

"However, the fact that we are not replacing the homes that are being sold was an issue prior to the pandemic and will persist long after it unless we act urgently."

The Government also extended the time councils have to spend Right to Buy receipts from three to five years – which the JRF said was a positive move.

Luton Borough Council collected £6.4 million through the scheme last year, contributing to £46 million raised since 2012.

A council spokesman said: "Despite the many challenges in housing, both locally and nationally, we are absolutely committed to improving the standard of housing in Luton and ensuring our residents live in quality, secure and affordable housing.

"This is absolutely fundamental to achieving our 2040 vision of ensuring no one in our town has to live in poverty.

"In addition to the initiatives we have in place to improve the standard of housing across the private sector, we have an ambitious and active building programme to overcome some of the local housing challenges."