Social housing in the most expensive areas of Britain should be sold off to pay for the construction of new social homes, a think tank claimed today.
A new report from the Policy Exchange recommends that expensive council homes should be sold off when they become vacant, thereby generating an estimated GBP4.5bn annually. If reinvested in a large scale social housing building programme, the money raised could be used to build 80,000 to 170,000 new social homes every year and reduce the housing waiting list by up to 600,000 households in five years.
Critics claim that such a move would create segregated areas of rich and poor because it would result in lower income families being forced out of more affluent areas, particularly in London.
David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said that the idea of selling off social housing in high value areas to build more in cheaper areas is “fundamentally flawed” and “could effectively cleanse many towns of hard-working people” who can’t afford to buy or rent privately.
Neil O’Brien, the director of Policy Exchange, stressed that the think tank’s proposal would not mean that any tenant has to move house but admitted it might mean that people would be less likely to get given a house in the most expensive parts of expensive cities. “But I don’t think anyone has a right to live in Kensington at taxpayers’ expense,” he added.
The report, Ending Expensive Social Tenancies, also claims that selling off the most valuable council houses would create between 160,000 and 340,000 jobs a year in the construction industry and would raise tenants’ standard of living from being in a cheaper area, without impacting on their employment prospects.
Proposals in the report suggest a regional cap on the value of social properties similar to the housing benefit cap. For example, a three-bed social property in London could not be more valuable than the average three-bed London property.