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‘Haemorrhaging’ of social rent housing laid bare in new report

More than 150,000 homes for social rent in England have been lost in the last five years, according to new research from the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH).

An analysis of the latest official figures by the CIH shows 103,642 council homes and 46,972 housing association homes for social rent were lost between 2012 and 2017.

According to the CIH, most of the losses were down to the homes being sold or converted to ‘affordable rent’.

The CIH has also warned that those figures will rise to 158,621 council homes and 70,972 housing association homes by 2020.

‘For many people on lower incomes, the only truly affordable option is social rent,’ said CIH chief executive, Terrie Alafat.

‘It is simply unacceptable that we are losing so many of our most affordable homes at a time when more and more people are in need.

‘The prime minister is absolutely right to make housing a priority, and some of the things the government is doing will help’, she added.

‘But government investment is still heavily skewed towards the private market. Our analysis shows that 79% of the housing budget up to 2020/21 is directed towards private housing, with just 21% going to affordable housing. Rebalancing this budget, so that more money is spent on affordable homes, could make a big difference.

‘We think local authorities should be able to keep 100% of the money they receive from sales, rather than having to hand some over to the Treasury, as is currently the case. The government could also give councils more time to use the receipts.’

Labour’s shadow housing minister, John Healey, said: ‘This lays bare the haemorrhage of low-cost housing under the Conservatives. In the midst of a housing crisis, it is indefensible that communities are losing much-needed affordable homes.

‘In many cases the taxpayer is paying three times over: first to build the homes, second for a right-to-buy discount of up to £100,000 per property and third for the higher housing benefit bill as more people end up in more expensive private rented homes,’ he added.

‘Labour will suspend the right-to-buy, only allowing properties to be sold if they are replaced like-for-like, and build at least 100,000 genuinely affordable homes a year including the biggest council house building programme in thirty years.’

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