Right to Buy sell-off cost to Lancaster council fears

Shelter release figures on the Right to Buy scheme
Shelter release figures on the Right to Buy scheme

The government’s extension of the Right to Buy scheme is set to cost Lancaster City Council an average of £11.5million a year, according to the homelessness charity Shelter.

The Right to Buy scheme helps eligible council and housing association tenants in England to buy their home with a discount of up to £103,900 (£77,900 outside London).

Figures released by Shelter reveal the city council would need to sell off 95 council homes each year to help fund the scheme’s discounts.

Lancaster is eighth on the list of 11 local authorities in the North West to be involved with the government’s new Housing and Planning Bill policy.

The policy forces local authorities to sell off a proportion of their council houses on the open market once they become vacant.

The government argues the scheme will double the number of homes available and raise the proportion of home-owners but Shelter say it will create less affordable homes.

Campbell Robb, Shelter’s chief executive, said: “Whilst the small number of lucky winners from this policy will understandably be grateful for the chance to buy their Housing Association property. Ultimately, far more people will lose out.”

The scheme has caused controversy in the past as Lancaster City Council balance the need to build homes and the preservation of green space.

Lancaster City Council currently owns 3740 properties in the area with an average rent costing £70.60 for 2016/17.

Last year 11 council properties were sold in the area under the Right to Buy Scheme, raising £605,550 with £387,045.45 being paid to the government.

If Shelter figures are accurate the city council would need to sell another 84 properties a year, raising £11.1million to the government.

Coun Karen Leytham, cabinet member with responsibility for housing, said: “The extension is just one of many changes government is proposing that will affect the way the council delivers housing services. These include a requirement to charge up to market rent for households with a joint income more than £30,000.”