London announces new plan to boost supply of council homes

The Mayor of London’s ‘Right to Buy-back’ fund will give boroughs the chance to purchase former council homes that have been sold into the private market through the government’s Right to Buy programme.

Since the introduction of Right to Buy, part of the 1980 Housing Act that gave council tenants the chance to buy their property at a reduced price, more than 300,000 London council homes have been sold.

Many of the homes bought under the scheme in London are now rented on the private market, sometimes back to the Council who sold them, and the scheme continues to have a negative impact on the overall number of council homes in London as the Council cannot afford the replenish its housing stock.

The Mayor’s new fund will allow councils and council-owned housing companies to acquire homes that meet the government’s Decent Homes Standard to let at social rent levels or to accommodate homeless families.

two doors together during daytime

Sadiq Khan, The Mayor of London, said: ‘For more than 40 years, London’s precious council homes have been disappearing into the private sector, often never to be replaced. It’s time for that to change.

‘We’re not only helping councils to build thousands of new council homes, but we’re giving them the resources to buy back former council homes through our Right to Buy-back scheme. In the midst of a housing affordability crisis it feels grossly unfair and unjust that more than four in ten council homes sold through the Right to Buy in London are now in the hands of private landlords. These were, after all, homes built for the public good.

‘I am proud that we have brought council homebuilding back up to levels not seen since the 1980s and I’m encouraged by the enthusiasm I see from boroughs across London for building new council homes. Fixing the housing crisis is going to take time, but this new Right to Buy-back scheme is an innovative new tool that will help to take another step in the right direction.’

The Mayor has also allocated funding to help with the construction of 10,000 new council homes between 2018 and 2023 under his Building Council Homes for Londoners programme.

Damien Egan, the Mayor of Lewisham, said: ‘The Right to Buy-back scheme is great news for Lewisham. The Mayor’s plan will enable us to reclaim urgently needed housing that was originally and rightfully intended for public ownership.

‘London is facing a housing crisis, and alongside our Building for Lewisham housebuilding programme, the Right to Buy-back scheme will be important in helping us move more Lewisham residents off the housing waiting list and into secure social homes.’

In related news, new analysis by City Hall found that the cost of renting privately in London could rise by almost 20% over the next five years if left unchecked.

Photo by Gleren Meneghin


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