Camden leader pledges to fight proposed council home sell-off under Right to Buy extension plans

Cllr Sarah Hayward. Picture: Polly Hancock

Cllr Sarah Hayward. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Camden Council leader Sarah Hayward has pledged to fight the proposed sell-off of more than half of Camden’s council homes as part of government plans to extend the Right to Buy scheme to housing association tenants.

Camden Council could be forced to sell off nearly half its social housing stock

Camden Council could be forced to sell off nearly half its social housing stock - Credit: Archant

Camden would be forced to sell off more social housing than anywhere else in the UK under plans to fund the extension of the scheme by selling off valuable council homes, homelessness charity Shelter reported yesterday.

Nearly half of Camden’s social housing stock – or 11,714 homes – would be sold into private hands.

Cllr Hayward told the Ham&High: “This government is fundamentally attacking the concept of social housing. The combination of these destructive housing and welfare policies would completely change the face of our borough, driving out normal working Londoners and making the city a place only for the wealthy.”

She added: “The real life impact of this policy will mean thousands of families being left with few options, move out of London and leave your family and friends, live in one room in a hostel with your children indefinitely, or try to find a private flat somewhere in London and pay an extortionate rent to a private landlord.

“We will fight this, joining boroughs across the political spectrum and Londoners to defend our homes.”

Under the extension plans, local authorities will be forced to sell off homes if valued above regional thresholds.

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In London, the value over which homes would be sold ranges from £340,000 for a one-bedroom home, to £1.2million for a property with five bedrooms or more.

Shelter has calculated that there are 11,714 homes in Camden above the London threshold, amounting to 49.8 per cent of its social housing stock.

It predicts that 265 homes in Camden would need to be sold a year, in a report published yesterday.

Cllr Hayward said: “The extension of the Right To Buy policy would affect Camden in two ways: first losing housing association homes in the borough to house people in.

“Then, when someone moves out or dies in one of our council flats and it is considered ‘void,’ we will be forced to sell it on the open market with the money going to pay for this destructive policy – so two potential homes for families are lost.”

She added: “This policy would complete decimate the stock of homes, but it certainly wouldn’t reduce the need for social housing as London becomes increasingly unaffordable for normal people on normal salaries.

“We think we could lose up to 400 council homes a year when they fall above the government’s threshold.

“And these are not luxury properties we will being forced to sell, they will be normal two or three bedroom flats in areas like Somers Town, which are currently homes for Camden families.”

Camden Conservatives will fight to reduce the impact of the extension of the Right to Buy scheme on the borough’s social housing stock.

The Tory branch have welcomed the government’s proposal to give housing association tenants the right to buy their own properties for the first time.

But the Tory group has pledged to fight for a higher threshold in Camden in response to Shelter’s report.

Cllr Oliver Cooper, Camden Conservative’s spokesman on housing, explained: “This would reduce the impact on Camden while giving everyone a chance to buy their own home.”

But he added that the policy was “brilliant”.

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “More council housing has been built since 2010 than in the previous 13 years.

“Councils should make the best use of their assets and manage their housing stock as efficiently as possible. So it is right that as high value council homes become empty they should be sold to fund new affordable house building in the same area.

“Our plans will also extend Right to Buy to more than a million housing association tenants, with every home sold replaced on a one-for-one basis. Details will be confirmed in the Housing Bill.”