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Right to Buy sales increase but new council houses decline

Efforts to replace houses lost in the Right to Buy scheme are declining despite an increase in sales, according to the latest figures from the DCLG.

The figures show that in the first quarter of 2016-17, there were 422 Right to Buy starts on sites and acquisitions by local authorities.

This was the lowest since the first quarter of 2015-16, where they were at 307, and compares to 737 in the last quarter of 2014-15.

However, in the same period, there were 3,362 Right to Buy sales, compared to 3,276 in the previous quarter and 2,779 at the same point last year.

The receipts from sales for councils grew from £273.2m in the previous quarter to £282.9m.

The local authority with the biggest number of Right to Buy sales since the scheme was reintroduced in 2012 is Birmingham, with 1,974 sales, followed by Leeds (1,501) and Sheffield (1,098.)

Gavin Barwell, the housing and planning minister, said the government was “determined to replace the additional homes sold on a one-for-one basis”.

Councils have three years from the sale of a home to provide an affordable property. There have been 7,018 starts and acquisitions since 2012 and 4,369 ‘additional sales’ above government estimates of sales that would have taken place anyway, fulfilling the terms of the commitment.

In August, the LGA called for reform of the Right to Buy scheme, as new figures showed a 27% decline in council housing replacements over the past year.

The new Housing and Planning Act, passed by Parliament this year, included an extension of the policy, which the Public Accounts Committee called “entirely speculative”.

It recommended that the DCLG publishes figures on where replacement homes are built, what size and type of tenure they are, and when they are completed.

Charity Shelter warned that the new policy will cost councils £26m a year, and Lord Kerslake, president of the LGA, said that the extension is based on figures which “don’t add up.”

(Image c. Joe Giddens from PA Wire)

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