YORKSHIRE WILL be plunged deeper into a housing crisis if Government presses ahead with plans to extend its Right to Buy scheme, it is warned today.
Councils will be forced to sell off thousands of homes on the private market according to new analysis of the “potentially devastating” impact of proposals put forward by Conservatives.
Under the Housing Bill, which requires local authorities sell off their most valuable council houses when they become vacant to fund extended discounts and build more affordable homes, some councils in the region could lose more than a quarter of their total housing stock.
Homelessness charity Shelter estimates that in Yorkshire and the Humber, 3.6 per cent of properties are above the Government threshold - which equates to the forced sale of 8,365 homes.
Harrogate, which is already struggling to cope with what housing officers describe as “a pressing need for affordable homes”, stands to lose 29 per cent of its total stock. In York the figure has been put at 18.3 per cent of local authority housing, or 1,342 properties if the bill, due before the Commons between October and November, is passed.
Chief executive Campbell Robb told The Yorkshire Post: “At a time when millions of families are struggling to find somewhere affordable to live, plans to sell off large swathes of the few genuinely affordable homes we have left is only going to make things worse.”
Extending the Right to Buy - first enshrined in law by Margaret Thatcher - to housing association tenants was one of the key pledges put forward in the Tories’ pre-election manifesto. The Government has promised to ensure one-for-one replacement.
But the National Housing Federation (NHF), which represents housing associations across the UK, and local authorities in Yorkshire have already voiced fears that it will be unable to meet the increased demand created by implementation of the scheme’- rejected by Welsh and Scottish governments.
Jo Allen, the NHF’s external affairs manager for Yorkshire, said: “We must concentrate on making sure the Right to Buy policy contributes to increasing the supply of desperately needed new homes. Housing associations are ready to work with Government to make this happen.”
The Rural Housing Alliance and Rural Services Network have joined forces in a call for the Conservatives to grant exemptions in certain areas.
Spokesman Andy Dean said: “Lack of affordable housing is a problemin most villages across England; and there are difficulties replacing lost stock.”
Shelter has gone one step further, suggesting it is binned altogether.
“The Government needs to scrap this proposal and start helping ordinary families struggling with sky-high housing costs,” said Mr Robb.
“If George Osborne is serious about turning around the crisis, the autumn spending review is his last chance to invest in the genuinely affordable homes this country desperately needs.”