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Sell off expensive social housing to fund more – think tank

Social housing in expensive parts of the country should be sold off to fund much more affordable housing in cheaper areas, the Conservative-aligned think tank Policy Exchange has urged in a new report.

Selling the highest-value properties once they are vacant could generate up to £4.5bn, which could then be used to build up to 170,000 new homes a year, Policy Exchange suggests, with nobody being forced to move.

Housing minister Grant Shapps has described the recommendation as “blindingly obvious”.

He said: “I’ve been determined that we get Britain building and help the thousands of families who for years have been left languishing on social housing waiting lists.”

Properties worth more than the average house price for an area account for one in five of the social housing portfolio, and these 816,000 homes have a total value of £159bn.

About 3.5% of these expensive homes become vacant each year and could raise £4.5bn, once debts are paid off. If used to provide more social housing, this would reduce the housing waiting list by 600,000 in five years.

Alex Morton, the report’s author, said: “Expensive social housing is costly, unpopular and unfair. That is why almost everybody rejects it. Social housing tenants deserve a roof over their heads – but not one better than most people can afford, particularly as expensive social housing means less social housing and so longer waiting lists for most people in need.”

The initiative would also create thousands of jobs in the construction sector and raise standards of living for tenants, the think tank said.

The National Housing Federation, which represents housing associations, said the proposals were “fundamentally flawed”, and could lead to the ejection of poorer people from areas that have become expensive, even if their families had lived there for generations.

Its chief executive David Orr told the Telegraph: “It could effectively cleanse many towns of hard-working people who simply can’t afford the high prices of buying or renting privately.”

View the report at:

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Mark   20/08/2012 at 14:58

This idea will lead to a further division between the rich and the poor in this country and the creation of ghettos in certain areas. This is a small step away from the ethnic cleansing employed by the Nazi's. What we need is affordable housing in every local authority and an independant rent review panel to set the rents in the private sector that have spiralled out of control.

Peter   20/08/2012 at 16:42

A fundamental source of the lack of social cohesion that leads to reduced productivity and creativity in the UK is the structural divide, which the fawning after independent schools and the ghettoisation of social housing exacerbates. Olympic medals winners came from every background - release the talent, don't push it to one side. In a few cases it may be valid to sell individual properties on a very high value street. And any such scheme should use the proceeds to support further social housing construction.

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