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Can I ask why council homes are ever sold at all?

(43 Posts)
astoundedgoat Wed 29-Nov-17 09:48:50

My understanding is that there is a huge housing shortage, and that council homes are nigh on impossible to get, with huge shortages, years-long waiting lists etc. etc.

But why does Right To Buy exist at all? Why does the government ever allow any council to sell a single property, unless a council finds itself in the glorious position of having more council accommodation available than has been needed for the last x number of years?

I know (think?) this started with Maggie Thatcher, but I don't think I've ever heard a single person say "Thank goodness our local council is rapidly selling all its housing stock. There are plenty of council homes for anyone who needs them."

I have a bit of a commie streak in me, and feel that rental housing, transport and utilities, like education and healthcare, should be dominated by government ownership, with private being more of an opt-out thing, but I don't think it's excessively leftie to think that the govt. should hang on to resources that it obviously needs on an ongoing basis?

ThisLittleKitty Wed 29-Nov-17 09:53:52

My friend is currently exchanging her two bed house for a 3 bed council house, hers is housing association. As she wants to buy it. So she can get the discount. I do think it's wrong. She only has one child aswell.

x2boys Wed 29-Nov-17 09:56:40

Well actually there's not a huge housing crisis everywhere in The country, in London and the South East yes, but not in my town and many other towns in the UK , also a lot of social housing isnt "council" anymore there isn't any council housing in my town the council sold off its stock to a housing association a few years ago .

CuriousaboutSamphire Wed 29-Nov-17 09:57:15

It started because the Thatcher government needed cash. They sold off just about everything... see Denis Thatcher and railway sell off for scary stories.

The logic was that the housing stock was ageing and there wasn't enough money for repairs or building new. Solution? Sell off existing stock and use the money to do up the remaining stock and build new... only someone forgot to ring fence the money!

Similar logic applied to a lot of things, like railways... where we still effectively pay private companies to run the services they bought licenses to run. And utilities, where French companies take out the profits.

Lots and lots of daft logic, none of it long term!

BitOutOfPractice Wed 29-Nov-17 09:59:39

Thatcher didn't believe in society and thought that people's "right" to own their own home and make money on it when they sold it was more important than other people's right to secure affordable housing.

It appears this government agrees

Efferlunt Wed 29-Nov-17 09:59:51

Policy was made popular by Maggie in the 1980s basically home owners were thought more likely to vote Tory...

x2boys Wed 29-Nov-17 10:02:18

Labour was in power for a long time and didn't do anything whatsoever to change policies so I don't think people can just blame Conservative?

GETTINGLIKEMYMOTHER Wed 29-Nov-17 10:02:50

We were surprised to find last year, courtesy of the Land Reg, that a dd's first house - an ex council - had been sold to the previous owners in 1971, so selling them had evidently gone on to some extent well before Thatcher.
To be entirely fair I don't think anyone ever envisaged the crazy relative increase in house prices, or that there would be such a shortage of housing generally, or that there would often be fraud/dodgy dealing involved in RTB.

And I do often wonder why on earth Labour, who were in power so long and often like complaining about Right to Buy, didn't put a stop to it. Presumably they thought it would lose them votes.

AgainPlease Wed 29-Nov-17 10:09:21

I do like the idea of people who can otherwise not ever afford their own home be able to buy their council property BUT ONLY IF the council/government are replenishing council housing stock, which they’re not and that makes me angry 😡

cooliebrown Wed 29-Nov-17 10:13:39

It is my understanding that Right-to-Buy was introduced by Harold Wilson's Labour Government in 1966; it was acknowledging that many council tenants had effectively paid for their house in rents over the years, so a discount purchase scheme was introduced. Monies from this were ring-fenced to funding future housing provision. I think what Milk-Snatcher did was to remove the ring-fencing and then heavily promote the Right-to-Buy. The house I live in was purchased from the council in 1967

TheNaze73 Wed 29-Nov-17 10:14:53

Between 1997-2010, the average number of social houses being built was less than 600 per year.
Utterly shameful

GETTINGLIKEMYMOTHER Wed 29-Nov-17 10:15:14

Effer, I have a close friend who exercised her RTB way back - she is a staunch Labour voter and I don't think anything on earth would ever persuade her to vote Tory.
However she was delighted to be able to buy the house where she'd lived for 40 odd years, ever since she could remember, having taken over the tenancy from her father after he died.
She's still there and I don't think would ever think of selling it for the profit. Which is more than you can say for some of the deliberately dodgy dealings that have gone on.
If RTB is not actually stopped, it's certainly high time it was considerably restricted.

MadForlt Wed 29-Nov-17 10:16:02

Right to buy no longer exists in Scotland. We never were big fans if Thatcher here...

BishBoshBashBop Wed 29-Nov-17 10:16:33

It appears this government agrees

As has every Labour government considering they didn't change It!

DaisysStew Wed 29-Nov-17 10:22:10

I've never agreed with selling off social housing,, especially when it's not being replaced with anything. People definitely abuse the system too. My mums friend bought her Council house years ago with a heavy discount. Fast forward to last year and she couldn't keep up with repairs so decided to sell. Couldn't find a buyer so ended up selling back to the council (at slightly less than market value - but more than triple what she'd originally paid). She then rented privately and put herself back on the council waiting list - 6 months later she has £££s in the bank profit from the sale and is renting a council property. Ridiculous.

Jenala Wed 29-Nov-17 10:24:50

In my town huge amounts of the council housing are bought via RTB cheaply then sold off at huge profit to landlords who then rent them to students at around £350 per room. There's lot of ex-LA properties around the university.

People are incoherent. My DM lives in a council property and would like to buy it for her huge discount. She'd be in line to make a good £60k overnight pretty much (albeit having to live there a few more years first). However she has also said, and I quote, that she will "never forgive Thatcher for selling off all the council houses".

If you are in a position to get a mortgage you should have to buy a private property elsewhere. Perhaps there could be a scheme where council tenants are given some help towards a deposit by the govt in order to buy elsewhere. I'm assuming there is a reason they don't but it feels like it'd be cheaper to bung a few £k in the pot towards a council tenants deposit for a private home than have to constantly try and build more LA homes? Bit late now anyway.

Firesuit Wed 29-Nov-17 10:25:23

I would prefer council housing not to exist. No objection to housing associations, as long as they charge a market rent and reinvest profits in maintaining and expanding their housing portfolio.

Housing associations should provide long-term secure rentals to anyone who applied. No means test, literally anyone who wants to rent can apply, property goes to whoever will pay the highest rent. Profit reinvested.

Would this hurt poor people? Not necessarily. We have a system for helping them afford housing, housing benefit. Just make that as generous as it needs to be.

Essentially it bugs me that there are multiple systems of housing subsidy. I want one rational and transparent one, and housing benefit is the best candidate.

gingerclementine Wed 29-Nov-17 10:29:20

Firesuit, that's insane. Highest rents propped up by housing benefit? Why should the taxpayer line the pockets of landlords? Fair rent makes much more sense with significant reductions for keyworkers in all services such as NHS, care and education.

FlowerPot1234 Wed 29-Nov-17 10:29:39

Totally wrong. Should never, ever be allowed. Idiotic for the state of the nation and utterly unfair on everyone else who has to buy property at market values.

Should be stopped immediately.

Gilead Wed 29-Nov-17 10:35:16

Labour was in power for a long time and didn't do anything whatsoever to change policies so I don't think people can just blame Conservative?
Changing policies such as this is phenomenally expensive and extraordinarily difficult to do. Some changes have been affected that have eased the situation, but it would be almost impossible to revert back.
We were surprised to find last year, courtesy of the Land Reg, that a dd's first house - an ex council - had been sold to the previous owners in 1971, so selling them had evidently gone on to some extent well before Thatcher.
There has been a small rtb policy in place since the sixties. This didn't cover new build, generally the pre war victorian terraces or conversions. The monies were ploughed back into local authority housing budgets, unlike Thatcher's capital receipts.

fannyfelcher Wed 29-Nov-17 10:39:03

Where I live there is no shortage of housing, you can apply and get a flat within weeks and a house within a month or two if you are not picky. My house is amazing, but in an area that is considered a little less desirable than some of the naicer council estates in the town. I have a 5 bed town house with a driveway, roof garden and rear garden. My living room is 8x4m and it is massive inside. I have the right to buy and I would be a fool to not exercise that right eventually. The market value is around 80k and I would pay 36k for it if I bought it now. BUT my local council does use to money to reinvest in housing. We have had quite a few affordable housing developments and new council properties built in our area. So I really do not see a problem with me buying this place. My ex husband has a council flat in the same town, they get bigger discounts and he is currently buying his flat from the council. It has a market value of 60k and he is paying 20k Again, he would be a fool not too. But neither of us are doing it as a money making scheme. We love our homes, as do our kids. This is the only way we would ever be able to afford to own our homes.

ArcheryAnnie Wed 29-Nov-17 10:40:12

ThisLittleKitty do you have a local oversupply of council houses? Because I don't know anywhere which would give a three-bed to someone with only one child. Certainly not around here!

ArcheryAnnie Wed 29-Nov-17 10:41:25

And yes, totally agree that council houses should not be sold off - or if they are, they should be sold off at market rates, not with an enormous discount.

EnthusiasmIsDisturbed Wed 29-Nov-17 10:44:10

Government needed cash and it won over a huge amount of voters Thatcher changed Britain she won over many working class voters for many people they were able to own their own home something that was totally out of their reach before social climbing was acceptable and encouraged

More the question why councils did not replace sold properties and this the Tories and Labour have let people down

Firesuit Wed 29-Nov-17 10:45:26

Firesuit, that's insane. Highest rents propped up by housing benefit? Why should the taxpayer line the pockets of landlords? Fair rent makes much more sense with significant reductions for keyworkers in all services such as NHS, care and education.

I suspect that you (like probably the majority of the population) believe that if, for example, a Tower Hamlets council flat that would fetch £400 a week at market rates is given to a tenant for £200 a week, then the tenant is £200 a week better off than if they had had to source their housing at market rates, and this £200 subsidy comes at no cost to anyone.

That is voodoo economics. The landlord is forgoing 200 pounds a week of income, that it could spend on someone in need, or any other public priority, for the benefit of someone who may not even quality for public subsidy for the majority of the period they have the tenancy, if the criteria of housing benefit applied.

The other side of your argument is wrong to. Landlords who let at market rents get exactly the same money for providing housing from a tenant who pays their own rent as one subsidised by housing benefit. Benefits including housing benefit are a subsidy to the recipient of them, not to the person/business they go on to spend their money at.

With regard to key-workers, if you think they need help, over and above what housing benefit would provide, do it by increasing their salary.

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