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Brighton loses a third of social homes to ‘Right to Buy’

Third of Brighton social housing lost to Right to Buy - let's buy it back

Siân says let’s buy back

New data from Siân Berry, Green MP candidate for Brighton Pavilion constituency, published in the Argus newspaper has revealed that almost a third (32.9%) of social housing in Brighton and Hove has been lost since the introduction of ‘Right to Buy’* in 1980, while Caroline Lucas takes action in Parliament.1,2

The only years since the start of Right to Buy that have seen a sustained increase in housing stock in Brighton and Hove were from 2019 – 2022 when there was a total net gain of 140 council homes.

This was largely Green councillors pressing for investment in buying up existing homes to add to the stock of council housing. The council has no power to challenge Right to Buy.

Key facts from Siân’s new analysis of official council housing data since 1979 are:3

  • The total net change [loss] in council homes in Brighton and Hove was -5,839;
  • The Right to Buy policy was a huge contributor to this net loss, with 5,473 homes sold off during this period;
  • The average number of homes sold off each year was 130; and
  • Between 2019 and 2022,194 existing homes were acquired as new council homes, which contributed to the overall total net gain of 140 homes during that time.

Siân says: “The reality behind the shocking total loss of council homes in Brighton and Hove is families doubled up in overcrowded and unhealthy homes and young parents without their own space, as well as hundreds of people stuck sofa surfing and Disabled people without properly accessible homes. 

“Right to Buy has been a strategic failure. It has leached away the social housing that people need and contributed to soaring prices that put too many homes beyond the average person. Brighton is a notoriously expensive place, and the miserable reality is that even privately renting a home is out of reach for far too many families.

“There are two solutions that would work in tandem – buy more homes to convert to social use, and end Right to Buy which is hurting far more than its helping. Stemming the loss of social homes while actively investing in more stock could make a huge difference and the Government – this one or the next – needs to step up with real funding. 

“Decent housing is a human right and an excellent public investment. A secure, affordable home improves mental and physical health, reduces financial stress, and lifts the huge burden of uncertainty that comes with private renting.

“This is why I will continue to campaign to end Right to Buy, and make sure that we buy back to replace the steady drip of losses we’ve seen over successive Governments.”

Caroline Lucas, MP, took action in parliament earlier this week (22 January) in collaboration with the Brighton Living Rent Campaign, by calling on the Government to abolish Right to Buy in England with an immediate suspension of all discounts. This follows suit with Scotland and Wales, noting that the state is now spending billions on housing benefit that goes to private landlords instead of into council housing.

Notes

  1. *Right to Buy is a government programme dating back to 1980 that gives social tenants the option to buy their homes at a discounted rate. This means councils have been obliged to sell housing stock off cheaply, with little or no support from central government to fund and build clearly needed replacements.
  • EDM text: This House notes that around 2 million council homes in England have been sold off to private individuals well below market value since the inception of the Right to Buy in 1980; further notes these homes were built using public money to create an essential collective asset fundamental to the post WWII settlement; believes Right to Buy has been abused by property speculators and has decimated precious social housing stock as successive governments failed to replace the social homes being lost; supports the 2022 UK Housing Review conclusion that Right to Buy was a strategic failure; is concerned that the state is now giving billions in housing benefit to private landlords that should be invested in building new council housing; recognises the link between Right to Buy and the harmful commodification of housing, housing inequality and shortages for people on low incomes, the current homelessness crisis and record rates of children living in temporary accommodation; further believes that council housing needs to be provided and safeguarded for the housing needs and wellbeing of current and future generations; welcomes the abolition of Right to Buy in Scotland and Wales; and calls on the Government to protect and strengthen social housing by following suit in England, starting with an immediate suspension of all discounts, at the same time as investing in an ambitious programme to build new council homes.