Plans to bring back lost ‘Right to Buy’ Council homes approved

Council homes in Hackney

Twenty-five former Council homes lost to the Government's Right to Buy policy will be brought back for use by families on Hackney’s housing waiting list after a £10 million investment was given the go ahead yesterday.

The purchase, approved by the Council’s Cabinet last night (26 January), will see the properties let out at social rents, complementing the Council’s own housebuilding programme to help tackle the borough’s housing shortage and provide genuinely affordable homes for local people. 

The homes are some of the thousands of Council properties lost in Hackney alone through Right to Buy – a government scheme introduced in 1980 to give Council tenants the chance to purchase their home at below market rates – with an average of 50 Council homes still sold in Hackney each year at discounts of up to £112,300.

Part of the income from homes sold under Right to Buy is used to help fund the hundreds of new Council homes in the Council’s in-house, not-for-profit housebuilding programme, with some also made available as grants to housing associations to deliver additional social housing through the Mayor of Hackney’s housing challenge programme.

Buying back former Council homes to use as social housing is another way of supporting some of the families on the Council’s housing register. However, arbitrary Government restrictions on how the Council spends Right to Buy receipts mean this money must be spent within three years of a sale and can only pay for 30% of a replacement home. Alongside a continued lack of government funding, this is significantly limit the Council’s ability to replace lost homes or meet the growing housing need in the borough. 

Deputy Mayor Cllr Rebecca Rennison, Cabinet Member for Finance, Housing Needs and Supply
While only a fraction of the thousands of properties we’ve 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.

But it’s a tragedy that we’re paying what may be many times more than what we were forced to sell them 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 through its pioneering, not-for-profit development programme.
Deputy Mayor Cllr Rebecca Rennison, Cabinet Member for Finance, Housing Needs and Supply

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