Channel 1 Los Angeles
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced a new plan to boost the capital’s supply of council homes.
The Mayor’s new Right to Buy-back fund will give boroughs the funds to purchase former council homes that have been sold into the private market through the Government’s Right to Buy programme.
Right to Buy, part of the 1980 Housing Act, gave council tenants who had lived in their house for more than three years the chance to buy their property at a price substantially below market rate. Since the Act’s introduction more than 300,000 London council homes have been sold.
While the number of Right to Buy sales has been declining in recent years, the policy continues to have a negative impact on the overall number of council homes in London. It also doesn’t appear to be fulfilling its original mandate of boosting owner occupation, with four in ten now rented on the private market – sometimes back to the very council that was forced to sell the home in order to house homeless families.
The Mayor’s Right to Buy-back scheme will make money available to help councils and council-owned housing companies acquire homes that will then be let at social rent levels or used as accommodation for homeless families. All homes purchased through this scheme must meet the Government’s Decent Homes Standard. With more and more small landlords selling or planning to sell their properties due to changes in tax laws, the Mayor believes it would be far better for these homes to be sold back to the council than to larger private landlords.
Over the last forty years councils have lost both the funding and expertise they require to build more council homes, but this is finally now changing with the Mayor overseeing a renaissance in council housing. Sadiq has committed to helping London’s councils start building council homes again with his ‘Building Council Homes for Londoners’ funding programme, which is on track to help boroughs start 10,000 new council homes between 2018 and 2023. More homes at social rent levels were started or acquired in London than all other regions of England in 2020/21. In 2019/20, councils started over 4,390 homes in London – the highest number since 1983.