Now that the Right to Buy extension has been confirmed, the policy and its consequences have become a huge talking point. London in particular is picking up on the issue and Boris Johnson has given his views.
When the policy was originally announced in the election campaign, Johnson said there was a “basic unfairness” for housing association tenants wanting to become homeowners. He also claimed the plan could be “extremely effective and advantageous for London.”1
Boris Johnson Believes Right to Buy Could Work in London
But now, concerns are rising over whether the scheme will cause a further shortage of housing, especially in the capital where the housing crisis is at its worst.
Right to Buy should involve the replacement of sold homes with new affordable ones. But under the existing system, just one in ten have been replaced in the last few years, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
Liberal Democrat London Assembly member, Stephen Knight, says: “The evidence is that Right to Buy strips the country of affordable housing rather than producing more.”1
But Johnson retaliated, noting that more council houses were built under the coalition government than when Labour was in power.
Now, he has brought London into the mix, stating: “I certainly wouldn’t want to see councils in London deprived at a rapid rate of housing stock that is one of their fundamental assets.
“Nor would I want to see housing associations deprived too rapidly of their homes, which are after all fundamental to their credit-worthiness to their ability to borrow and to build new homes.
“It’s very, very important that this policy delivers more low cost homes. It will only work for London if it delivers more cash, more homes, more low cost homes, if it makes sure that the cash from the sale of any council homes stays firmly in London and is used to build more homes for Londoners.
“It would be the height of insanity to use the proceeds of council house sales in London to help build more homes away from London, because it is in London where we have a housing crisis.”
He also hopes that the policy will not cause a social shift in the capital: “The joy and beauty of London is its mixture of socio-economic groups. That’s what we all want and I don’t want to see that eroded by this policy.”1