The Conservatives have announced plans to force councils to sell off the most expensive 210,000 council houses and use the money to pay for a national programme of ‘right to buy’ for housing associations right across the country.
For Winchester this will be a catastrophe!
First, nearly half (48%) of all councils have sold off or transferred their council housing to housing associations. Only around half of all councils actually have any council housing at all, and only the councils that do will be paying for this national programme: Winchester is one of them.
This unavoidably means that sales of council housing in Winchester (and other areas with council housing) will be subsidising ‘right to buy’ in the rest of the country. And because we haven’t transferred our council housing to housing associations, we also have less housing association housing than other areas – and so our area will get even less of this money!
To put it another way, 52% of councils – including Winchester – will be subsidising ‘right to buy’ in the other 48% of council areas.
The second problem is that Winchester is an expensive area – in the top 10% of the country for house prices – which means that a much higher proportion of our council housing will be amongst the most expensive 5% of council housing in the country and so will have to be sold when it becomes free. We have a completely disproportionate share of the ‘most valuable 210,000 properties’ that the Conservatives are planning on using to fund the scheme. As soon as a family home becomes available, it won’t be used to support people in housing need, but will be flogged off on the open market to pay for ‘right to buy’ somewhere else in the country. And because the biggest cost relating to housing is the cost of the land, we won’t be able to afford to build many replacements. At best, the only type of new council housing we could manage each time we were forced to sell a family homes would be a small flat – and that doesn’t help tackle our affordable housing problem.
So the net effect of this policy is a disaster. A large proportion of our council housing – especially bigger family homes – will have to be sold off. And our area will see hardly any of the money.
It’s completely bonkers. And another reason to vote for Jackie Porter as the only way to stop the Tories in Winchester on May 7.