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Gravesham bucks national trend as Right to Buy sales fall year-on-year

PUBLISHED: 07:00 29 August 2018

Right to Buy came into effect one year after Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister in the Housing Act 1980 under Minister for the Environment, Michael Heseltine (left)

Right to Buy came into effect one year after Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister in the Housing Act 1980 under Minister for the Environment, Michael Heseltine (left)

PA Archive/PA Images

Council house sales under the Right to Buy scheme have slowed down in Gravesham in the last 12 months, bucking a national trend that saw purchases rise across England.

The latest figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government show that Gravesham Council sold 29 council homes under the Right to Buy scheme from April 2016 to March 2017, down from 32 in the previous year.

Right to Buy was implemented in 1980 by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government with the goal of helping council houses tenants buy their rented homes at a discount. It was updated in 2005, with more criteria added.

In 2016-17, Gravesham sold five houses in every 1,000 houses owned by the council.

Tower Hamlets was the local authority with the highest proportion of sales - 22 dwellings for every 1,000 properties of its housing stock.

Nationally, 13,652 council houses were purchased by tenants in 2016-17 - about 1,100 more than one year earlier.

Judith Blake, a Local Government Association Housing spokesperson, said: “The loss of social housing means that we are spending more and more on housing benefit to supplement expensive rents instead of investing in genuinely affordable homes.

“The government must go beyond the limited measures announced so far, scrap the housing borrowing cap, and enable all councils, across the country, to borrow to build once more.

“We have long called for reforms to Right to Buy in order to allow councils to build more homes to set discounts locally and to keep 100pc of receipts from homes sold.”

This month, the government has started a £200 million pilot scheme in the Midlands to extend Right to Buy to all tenants of housing associations.

Up to now, these tenants could buy under the Right to Buy scheme only if the home was owned by the council at the time they moved in.

Housing association tenants can also apply for a different scheme called Right to Acquire, which allows them to purchase the dwelling at a smaller discount.

David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, which represents housing associations, said: “This pilot represents the first large-scale test of the new settlement and we now want to work with tenants, housing associations and the Government to get it right.

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