Anger at council house sell-off plan

News story
News story

A CHARITY has condemned the enforced selling-off of Wigan council houses in order to subsidise the purchase of other affordable homes.

Housing and homelessness organisation Shelter has revealed the potentially devastating impact of government plans to sell off council housing, with new research showing that over 2,600 council homes in the North West could face being sold on the private market.

The proposed scheme would force council homes worth more than a set threshold for the region to be sold once they become vacant.

Wigan gets off relatively lightly with Shelter estimating the local authority will have to flog 29 council houses, even though there are plenty of people on waiting lists wanting to move into such properties.

The money raised from these sales would then be used to fund new discounts of up to £100,000 for housing association tenants taking up the Right to Buy.

According to the charity’s estimates, Stockport would be the worst hit area in the region. There over 1,330 homes could face forced sale - equivalent to nearly 12 per cent of the area’s total council housing stock.

West Lancashire, which includes Up Holland, Skelmersdale, Appley Bridge, Parbold and Wrightington, could be forced to sell seven per cent of their total, or around 440 homes, once they become vacant and Cheshire West and Chester approximately 457 homes, or eight per cent of their total council housing stock.

Campbell Robb, Shelter’s chief executive, said: “At a time when millions of families are struggling to find somewhere affordable to live, plans to sell off large swathes of the few genuinely affordable homes we have left is only going to make things worse.

“More and more families with barely a hope of ever affording a home of their own and who no longer have the option of social housing, will be forced into unstable and expensive private renting.

“The government needs to scrap this proposal and start helping the millions of ordinary families struggling with sky high housing costs.

“If George Osborne is serious about turning around the housing crisis, the autumn spending review is his last chance to invest in the genuinely affordable homes this country desperately needs.”

The discounts referred to for housing association tenants are the same amount currently offered to tenants housed by local authorities.

Depending on the length of the tenant’s occupation; the type of property; and the property’s value, the maximum discounts are £103,900 in London and £77,900 in the rest of England.

To estimate the number of council homes that would be subject to forced sales, Shelter looked at the profile of the council housing stock in each local authority and the turnover of council housing stock.