Search

Readers' Letters

Editor’s comment: Why Right to Buy makes me so angry

PUBLISHED: 11:33 04 August 2017 | UPDATED: 19:01 04 August 2017

Mayor Phil Glanville on site at Aikin Court. Hackney Council is building new council homes, but can't keep up with the rate at which they have been lost through Right to Buy. Picture: Hackney Council/Sean Pollock

Mayor Phil Glanville on site at Aikin Court. Hackney Council is building new council homes, but can't keep up with the rate at which they have been lost through Right to Buy. Picture: Hackney Council/Sean Pollock

Sean Pollock Photographer

Whenever I read (or publish) anything about Right to Buy I generally end up spluttering and wringing my hands.

Never mind that councils have no way of replacing the homes that have been lost, while the waiting list is enormous (12,000) and growing.

Never mind the fact 50 per cent of the Hackney Council homes sold under the scheme are now in the hands of private landlords, who are renting out the same houses the council used to, but now beyond the price range of the people who need them.

Nope – unfortunately, it gets worse. After all that, councils aren’t even in control of the money they raise through selling their homes at a discount.

Bearing in mind there is nothing they can do about it if someone who meets the criteria decides to apply, that’s kind of kind of daylight robbery.

How so? Well, first of all, town halls have three years to use the cash for social housing.

Secondly, they can’t use it to bankroll more than 30pc of any housing schemes they do invest in.

In other words, a council has to plan and deliver a development, and find 70pc of its cost elsewhere, in three years.

Unless it has enormous reserves (spoiler: Hackney isn’t Kensington and Chelsea), that’s nearly impossible, especially when you consider it’s not allowed to mix the money with grants from elsewhere – like when supermarket coupons say “may not be used in conjunction with any other offer”, except with bigger stakes than cheap washing powder.

And what happens if the town hall can’t use the money up? Apparently, the government simply snatches it back.

No one even knows what it’s used for. It just gets swallowed up by that good old national debt. If a council can’t find a way to deliver social housing within three years, it can kiss those receipts goodbye.

Hackney’s initiative to keep the cash locally is hardly a victory. The public purse is still being robbed blind for all the reasons I’ve given above.

But the town hall is to be commended for doing what it can – and we would all do well to remember who is really taking our homes (spoiler: it’s the government, not refugees).

Latest Hackney Stories

Yesterday, 17:00

Hackney will host the Virgin Sport Festival of Fitness in 2018, including its annual half marathon event in May.

Yesterday, 14:30

Mauricio Pochettino insists containing Manchester City will not be on his mind on Saturday as he believes Tottenham can beat the Premier League’s unbeaten leaders.

Yesterday, 14:00

O’s visit Boro in first round of FA Trophy this weekend

Yesterday, 13:40

Each week the Gazette takes to the streets to unearth something being manufactured right here in Hackney. This week we visit Anni Kriesche who started out making soap in her Lower Clapton kitchen five years ago

Yesterday, 13:30

Dawid Malan enjoyed every minute of the Australia pace barrage he had to withstand on his way to a maiden hundred which has breathed new belief into England’s Ashes campaign.

Yesterday, 13:28

Former thinktank boss Gavin Poole tells the Gazette about the Here East tech hub he runs at the Olympic Park.

Yesterday, 12:34

Phil Taylor is determined to close out his illustrious career with a 17th world title at Alexandra Palace, writes Ziad Chaudry.

Yesterday, 12:16

Hackney-born Anthony Yarde retained his WBO Intercontinental and European light-heavyweight titles in style at the Copper Box Arena on Saturday.



Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read

Show Job Lists