The Government’s extension of the Right to Buy will inevitably raise concerns of further running down the social housing stock.
Unless we build at least as many homes as we sell, we’ll eventually run out of homes anyone is prepared to buy.
Decent Homes means the state wouldn’t quite end up being a slum landlord but it would be relegated to owning only the least desirable properties.
So Right to Buy has to be accompanied by a credible and delivered programme of new homes building.
Right to Buy could be an important part of transforming estates and creating mixed communities but this can only happen if the coalition is prepared to make some tough decisions.
A property bought under Right to Buy is lost to the pool of affordable, social housing. The buyer is (rightly) free to sell it on or rent it out on the private market.
But what if the buyer’s tenant is a low income household which relies on the state for Housing Benefit?
The taxpayer has already subsidised the purchase price and is now subsidising the buyer’s mortgage via the tenant’s HB award.
We’re potentially paying the original buyer not to live in a home we sold them for a knock-down price and, because it’s now being rented on the private sector, there’s a risk we’re paying more HB than if the property was still being rented at an affordable social sector rent.
Plus, the fact that we’re paying any HB at all for the property undermines the desire to create neighbourhoods of mixed affluence.
Should we be looking to the coalition to prohibit the paying of HB on any RTB property which is subsequently offered for rent?