Labour’s London Assembly Housing Spokesperson Tom Copley AM has accused the Government of “stealing” over £90m of funding for new council homes in the capital. The attack comes after Housing Minister Brandon Lewis MP admitted in a letter that between 2012 and 2014 the Treasury diverted over £90m of Right to Buy income from London boroughs to other projects. Mr Copley said the money should have been used to fund new homes in the capital and accused the Government of intentionally cutting the number of council homes in London.
Responding to a letter from Mr Copley, Government Housing Minister Brandon Lewis admitted that between 2012 and 2014 the Treasury had held back over £90m from boroughs, money which Mr Copley said should have been used to fund replacement homes. Instead, Lewis admitted the money had been put into the “general pot” of Treasury funding and that it was “not possible to set out specifically how the proceeds” were spent. In response Mr Copley has demanded the Government return the money so it can be reinvested in London housing.
The revelation comes despite the last 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 Mr 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 Housing Spokesperson, Tom Copley AM said:
“Despite promising that Right to Buy would result in a new home for each one sold the last Government effectively stole £90m which was meant to be spent on new homes for the capital. As a result many councils are finding it impossible to replace their lost homes.
“London’s housing market is already in crisis, diverting money which was meant to be reinvested in new homes is a total betrayal. You have to wonder whether the policy was intentionally designed this way to reduce the number of council homes in London.”