An astonishing statistic released by homeless charity Shelter reveals that the number of properties now purchased under the right to buy scheme has dropped by over 90% in less than eight years.
Shelter gleaned the figures from their housing data bank and they really do show a dramatic difference. In 2003 over 70,000 homes that were once covered by the cheapest landlord insurance were bought by their former tenants. In 2010 the figure was down to 2.300, a drop of 97%. The figures go some way to explain Prime Minister David Cameron’s assertion at his party conference last week that the Government would do all in its power to increase discounts to encourage more tenants to buy their council homes and at the same time release money for housing associations to fund new building projects.
Campbell Robb, the chief executive of Shelter, was keen to see proof of the Government’s stance saying “Whilst new thinking to tackle our lack of decent, affordable homes is a positive move, it is absolutely critical that any proposals will actually deliver at significant levels to make a real difference. We must ensure the one-for-one commitment to replace right-to-buy homes by building new homes is met, otherwise it will do more harm than good.
“It is also important to recognise that the new right to buy scheme is a small measure and will only benefit a limited number of people. On its own, it will not deliver the quantity of new homes that we need to meet the growing need. The government’s new housing strategy now needs to set out a long term sustainable plan to end the squeeze on families who can’t find a decent affordable home.”
Shelter also revealed that on average, in 2010, housing associations put their rents up three times more than local councils. Association rents going up by £4.40 while council rents went up by just £1.31.
Property developers have won a ten year fight to build housing on former army land after the Scottish Government overruled a council decision to reject the bid. Taylor Wimpey and Miller Homes will now build 75 properties on the land in Colinton.
The council chiefs had twice previously rejected the proposals, which local residents claim will lead to the small village of Colinton having its population doubled in the next few years. Plans to develop the land were first drawn up twelve years ago, prompting angry residents to start a campaign to try and raise the £50,000 they needed to buy the land from the Ministry of Defence. The campaign failed but it did not matter as the council rejected the proposal.
The developers submitted a new planning application in 2004 which was again rejected after 2,000 people objected individually. A third application was made six months ago, and when this was refused Taylor Wimpey and Miller Homes then appealed to the Scottish Government who overruled the decision and gave the go ahead to build the mix of housing which will include some social houses that will be protected by the cheapest landlord insurance. Colinton Amenity Association (CAA), who have been opposing the development from day one are very disappointed with the decision of the city council to give up after a decade of standing firm.
Ward Councillor Jason Rust said: “This is a black day for Coliton and devastating news for the local community despite their best efforts and for all the people who have objected. It seems that Scottish Government advice about appropriate land supply has outranked the council’s city development plan. This is particularly unfortunate since there seems to be no shortage of sites in practice and there is already a lot of uncertainly in relation to the Barracks sites.”
A councillor from Cradley has slammed the plans to sell off twenty-four of the boroughs most run down council properties. At a time when a huge number of people are desperately in need of housing he believes the council should be refurbishing the properties which were once covered by the cheapest landlord insurance.
Councillor Richard Body thinks Dudley Council’s plan to dispose of the properties is ridiculous. The council want to sell the homes off cheaply as they all need significant investment to bring them up to a liveable standard, and the money received, put towards renovating other dilapidated council houses in the area.
Councillor Body said: “There are more people than ever on the housing list crying out for homes. If you have two children the likelihood of getting a house is so slim it is almost nil. We should do everything we can to hold on to our housing stock because it is needed. There are people all over the borough in desperate need of homes. We are losing houses when we don’t have to – it’s disgraceful.”
Dudley Council claim that during the last two years, a significant number of properties have become empty and they do not have the money to cover them with landlord insurance and make them habitable due to major issues such as serious structural faults. Some of the problems have been caused by previous tenants who refused to have any modernisation work done and it was only when they moved out that the extent of damage was seen. A spokesman said the council are always looking to repair properties whenever it is economically viable. However, sometimes other options need to be looked at. The twenty-four properties will be sold ASAP and there has already been interest from developers and a number of private landlords who are looking to increase their portfolios.