Think tank calls for council housing sell off

| August 20, 2012
Think tank calls for council housing sell off

The Policy Exchange, a leading UK think tank, is calling for expensive social housing to be sold as it becomes vacant.

This could raise £4.5 billion a year and the money could be used to create the largest social house building programme since the 1970s, the think tank suggests in a new report.

Between 80,000 and 170,000 new social homes could be built each year, providing jobs and boosting the economy, according to the Ending Expensive Social Tenancies report.

It could also reduce the housing waiting list by up to 600,000 in five years.

The suggestion was described as “blindingly obvious” by Housing Minister Grant Shapps, but it has raised concern that it could lead to the least well-off members of society being forced out of expensive areas.

This could lead to the creation of new ghettos according to some critics and the National Housing Federation has warned that it could become a form of social cleansing.

The Policy Exchange’s suggestion would apply to around 22 per cent of the UK’s total social housing stock, or 816,000 properties out of a total of 3.78 million.

Social housing worth more than the average property in each region would be sold under the proposal.

Author of the report, Alex Morton, said: “Social housing tenants deserve a roof over their heads – but not one better than most people can afford, particularly as expensive social housing means less social housing and so longer waiting lists for most people in need.”

Meanwhile Labour has raised concern over the government’s plan to relax regulations forcing developers to include a proportion of affordable housing in new developments.

Critics believe that this could lead to nearly two million families missing out on the chance of a home.

The Section 106 planning regulation is unpopular with property firms, as they claim it discourages new building projects and hampers economic growth.

A review of the private rented sector, led by Sir Adrian Montague, is due to the published this week and it could recommend giving local authorities the power to waive Section 106 rules.

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