Right to Buy homes to be bought back by Hackney Council

Regeneration project

Hackney Council has bought back 25 Right to Buy homes as part of its commitment to tackle the housing crisis. - Credit: Hackney Council

Plans to buy back lost Right to Buy council homes and tackle Hackney's housing shortage have been given the green light.

Ten million pounds in investment was approved by the council's cabinet on January 25 for use on 25 former council homes.

The newly aquired properties will then be made available to families on Hackney's housing waiting list.

Deputy Mayor Cllr Rebecca Rennison, cabinet member for finance, housing needs and supply, said: “While only a fraction of the thousands of properties we have been forced to sell due to the government’s dysfunctional Right to Buy policy, these are council homes that were built to provide a safe, secure and genuinely affordable place to live for local families who need them most, and I’m delighted to be bringing them back for this purpose."

According to the council, Hackney faces a housing crisis with more than 13,000 households waiting for a council home. 

More than 3,000 of those families are living in bed and breakfasts, hostels and other unsuitable temporary accommodation.

Right to Buy was a government scheme introduced in 1980 giving council tenants the chance to purchase their homes with a discount. 

The council says an average of 50 of the borough's council homes are sold each year at discounts of up to £112,300.

Income acquired from homes sold under the scheme helps to fund the creation of hundreds of new council homes through the local authority's not-for-profit housebuilding programme.

It also goes towards grants to housing associations delivering additional social housing through the mayor of Hackney’s housing challenge programme.

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However, Hackney Council says "arbitrary government restrictions" on how it can spend Right to Buy receipts means, along with a lack of government funding, that its ability to replace lost homes or meet growing need is limited. 

Councils can only use money acquired from Right to Buy to pay 30 per cent of a replacement home and must spend it within three years of a sale. 

Cllr Rennison added: "It’s a tragedy that we’re paying what may be many times more than what we were forced to sell [the properties] for, and we’ll continue to make the case for reform of a policy which fails to give councils the funding and flexibility they need to replace lost social housing which has contributed towards the huge housing shortage we have today.

“In the meantime, we’ll keep doing what we can to support local families here and now – whether it’s buying back former homes like these or delivering the hundreds of new council homes that Hackney is building."

The 25 homes have been bought as a bulk purchase from the registered provider Local Space, which will use funds from the purchase to buy additional affordable homes for homeless families in temporary accommodation.

However, the government says Right to Buy has helped nearly two million council tenants "realise their dream of home ownership". 

It said it has consulted on options for providing greater flexibility around Right to Buy receipts to help councils build faster and will publish a response "in due course".

A Ministry of House, Communities and Local Government spokesperson said: “We are investing over £12 billion in affordable housing over five years, the largest investment in affordable housing in a decade.

"This includes the new £11.5 billion Affordable Homes Programme, which will provide up to 180,000 new homes across the country, should economic conditions allow."

They said since 2010 the government has built more than 517,000 affordable homes - 148,000 of which are for social rent. This includes 4,935 affordable homes in Hackney, of which 2,624 are social rented in the borough.

The government says half of all homes delivered in its programme will be affordable and for social rent.

There has been over 127,000 Right to Buy sales since 2010 and 791 in Hackney over the last decade. 

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