28th Oct, 2016

Government housing sell-off is 'impossible' - councillor

Joshua Godfrey 19th Aug, 2015 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

A LEADING Wychavon councillor has described the Government’s policy to sell off housing association properties as ‘impossible.’

Coun Margaret Rowley, who stood as the Liberal Democrat’s parliamentary candidate at the 2015 general election for Mid Worcestershire, has warned there won’t be enough social housing in Wychavon if the policy goes ahead.

New housing developments of 10 houses or fewer no longer have to provide funding for social housing as a result of recent changes to planning rules.

The Conservative Government is planning to legislate to allow housing association tennants to buy their homes, similiar to the Right to Buy policy introduced by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s.

Coun Rowley said she was concerned housing associations won’t have enough money to replace the houses they sell after offering them at discounted rates.

Currently there are 3,780 people on waiting lists for social housing across the Vale and Coun Rowley believes the situation will only get worse as a result of the right-to-buy policy.

“Two recent government policies are likely to make the situation worse, the right to buy housing association properties is particularly concerning” she said

The government says that replacement homes will be built from the proceeds of the sale of empty high-value council homes.

“This is impossible because no efficient housing manager would have empty properties, and Wychavon sold all council housing stock to housing associations in 1994,” she added.

Coun Richard Morris, executive board member for housing at Wychavon District Council said: “Since April 2012 we have brought 234 long-term empty homes back into use in addition to delivering 670 affordable homes.”