Government accused of “stealing” housing funding

Local London Assembly Member John Biggs has accused the Government of “stealing” £90m of funding for new council homes in London including Tower Hamlets and Newham. Mr Biggs said the missing money is “contributing to a disturbing situation where it is becoming more and more difficult for people in to access affordable housing including council homes.”

This accusation comes after a letter from Housing Minister Brandon Lewis MP admitted that between 2012 and 2014 the Treasury pocketed over £90m of money raised by London Councils as a result of council home sales under the controversial Right to Buy. Mr Biggs called on the Government to return the funding to the Council to enable them to build the homes which are so desperately needed.

The revelation comes despite the Government promising every “home sold under Right to Buy will be replaced by a new home for affordable rent, with receipts from sales recycled towards the cost of replacements.” Despite this pledge a recent report from Labour London Assembly Member Tom Copley found that councils in London expect the number of homes sold under Right to Buy to far outstrip the rate they are able to build replacements over the next decade. The report found that overall London boroughs expect 1.5 council properties to be sold over the next ten years for every new home that will be built with outer-London boroughs forecasting two council homes would be sold for every new home completed.

Labour’s London Assembly Member, John Biggs said:

“Despite promising that Right to Buy would result in a new home for each one sold the Government effectively stole £90m which was meant to be spent on new homes in London. As a result many councils are finding it impossible to replace their lost homes, contributing to a disturbing situation where it is becoming more and more difficult for people in Tower Hamlets and Newham to access affordable housing including council homes. 

“In Tower Hamlets and Newham we are in desperate need of new affordable homes, diverting money which was meant to be reinvested in new housing is a total betrayal. Put simply, we want the money back.”

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