LGA warns right-to-buy system is becoming ‘unsustainable’

Nearly £6billion has been given in rebates under the government’s Right to Buy (RTB) scheme since the size of the rebate was increased in 2012, analysis by the Local Government Association reveals .

The LGA, which represents more than 350 councils in England and Wales, warns the scheme is becoming unsustainable with councils struggling to rebuild homes as quickly as they are sold.

The size of discounts available was increased in April 2012 and as a result the average discount has increased by 150% to over £67,000 in 2020/21. LGA claims that this also resulted in a quadrupling of RTB sales.

Councils are also not able to keep all the money from RTB sales, which LGA says they have only been able to replace around a third of homes sold since 2012, impacting their ability to provide housing for homeless and vulnerable families.

While the RTB has helped many families move up the housing ladder, LGA analysis suggests the scheme ‘faces an uncertain future’ unless councils are given the opportunity to set discounts locally and retain 100% of sales proceeds to finance the replacement of homes sold under the scheme.

Councils should also be able to combine RTB receipts with government grants, such as the Affordable Housing Scheme, and transfer sales funding to ALMOs or housing corporations to give them greater flexibility on how new social housing is provided.

LGA housing spokesman David Renard said: “Councils want to urgently tackle the number of people on waiting lists for social housing and stuck in temporary accommodation. At a time of escalating cost of living crisis, we urgently need to build more social housing, not less.

‘It is becoming impossible for councils to replace houses as quickly as they are sold and increasingly they have to do so with far less money than the property sells because of the discounts offered.’

“Every home sold that is not replaced risks pushing more families into the private rental sector, increasing housing assistance spending and rents and exacerbating our homelessness crisis.”

“RTB continues to enable many families to fulfill their dream of climbing the housing ladder and owning their own home. However, without regime reform, future generations will not have the same opportunity,” adds Foxes.

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