CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Revealed: Camden Council hatching £24 million plan to buy back Right To Buy homes

Exclusive: Housing chiefs scouring the market for former council homes

13 June, 2019 — By Richard Osley

COUNCIL chiefs are working on a dramatic bid to buy back homes sold under “right to buy” legislation, the New Journal can reveal.

Backstage discussions involve a £24.3million package which would see properties brought back under council control and used for temporary accommodation for homeless families, who are often sent to bed-and-breakfast hotels at high cost to the council.

It is under­stood the council is looking at three-bedroom flats and houses lost to “right to buy”. It can get to the front of the queue because it has a “first refusal” option to buy at market value when they come up for sale.

The New Journal understands that Camden intends to finance the scheme by making the most of a relaxation of local government borrowing rules to fund 70 per cent of the cost. The remainder will be paid for using receipts from “right to buy” sales. The council, one of the first authorities to attempt such a project, is expected to explain the fine detail of the proposals before cabinet councillors next month.

Asked by the New Journal about the plans, council leader Councillor Georgia Gould confirmed the idea was in motion.

“By investing in increasing our housing stock we are keeping our communities together – children close to their schools and residents close to their social networks and sources of support,” she said. “The £30m we have received from the Mayor of London to build new council homes as part of our Community Investment Programme has enabled us to use other funding to buy back former council homes.”

Cllr Gould is understood to be among Labour councillors opposed to the principle of “right to buy” due to the way the process shrinks the overall stock. “Councils should not be forced to sell much-needed social housing.

A hundred years on from the Addison Act, Camden Council is delivering on our core com­mitment to protect and house the most vulnerable,” she said. “We need a government committed to social housing, which gives us funding and powers to build enough homes to truly tackle the housing crisis.”

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