PM backs sell-off of £1m council homes: Plan to raise £4.5bn a year to fund new social housing

| August 21, 2012 | 0 Comments

  • Local authorities have been urged to sell costly homes when tenants move out
  • Money could be invested in extra housing stock in cheaper areas, says think-tank
  • Critics say idea would create ghettos but Downing Street back the idea

By
Gerri Peev

22:56 EST, 19 August 2012


|

19:54 EST, 20 August 2012


David Cameron backs the contentious plans

David Cameron backs the contentious plans

David Cameron has given his backing to contentious plans to encourage the sale of expensive council houses.

Local authorities have been urged to rid themselves of homes in high-value postcodes by the Prime Minister’s favourite think-tank, the Policy Exchange.

Around £4.5billion a year could be raised if councils sold costly homes when tenants moved out.

This could then be invested in extra housing stock in cheaper areas, the think-tank said.

It could also be used to build new homes, stimulating the economy and generating jobs.

Critics say the idea would create ghettos – but Downing Street gave the idea its firm backing yesterday.

The Prime Minister’s official
spokesman said: ‘Councils should be looking at ways to use their social
housing stock as efficiently as they can.

‘The waiting lists for social housing
have increased a lot in the past.

‘They doubled under the last
government. [Councils] need to think about how they can use that social
housing more efficiently. If they can sell very high-worth housing and
invest in more social housing and find homes for more people, that’s
something that should be looked at.’

Housing minister Grant Shapps has
also praised the proposal, saying: ‘Where you have houses which are
worth millions, you could sell them and build a lot more homes to help
sometimes vulnerable people come off the waiting list.

Housing Minister Grant Shapps says that it is 'blindingly obvious' that council chiefs should sell off houses to generate money which could build more homes

Selling
off: Housing Minister Grant Shapps says that it is ‘blindingly obvious’
that council chiefs should sell off houses to generate money which
could build more homes

Selling expensive homes in areas like Islington, North London, would mean more affordable housing could be built and that would create up to 340,000 jobs in the construction sector

More jobs: Selling expensive homes in areas like Islington, North London, would mean more affordable housing could be built and that would create up to 340,000 jobs in the construction sector

JOBLESS REFUGEE LIVING IN £1.25MILLION FULHAM HOUSE


Enlarge

 
Escaped: Manal Mahmoud was not evicted after she and her family trashed this property in Fulham, but will be given another taxpayer-funded property to live in

A refugee family moved into a
Victorian end-of-terrace home worth £1.25million in Fulham after it was given a £76,000 facelift – and then trashed it.

Jobless Manal Mahmoud
received thousands of pounds in housing benefit from Hammersmith and Fulham Council, but her seven wayward children refused to co-operate and have been accused of anti-social behaviour.

After pressure from the council she has agreed to leave the borough and signed a court order promising her children would clean up their act.

The agreement means the clan will be given a new taxpayer-funded property after the council acknowledged it had a ‘legal obligation’ to find them a new home.

‘It is blindingly obvious, and only a
perverse kind of left-wing dogma that appears indifferent to those
languishing on record waiting lists prevents this kind of common sense
from prevailing.’

There has been outrage at revelations
that taxpayers have been footing costly rent bills for social tenants,
including £2,875 a week for an Afghan family living in a seven-bedroom
house in Acton, West London.

The Policy Exchange’s report, Ending
Expensive Social Tenancies, said selling council homes in such areas
would be enough to build 80,000 to 170,000 more properties.

Neil O’Brien, the think-tank’s
director, said social housing would still exist in very expensive areas
under its proposal, but there would be ‘less of it’. Under the new
system, he told the BBC, ‘rather than having one lucky family with a
very expensive house you would have two families, perhaps desperately
waiting for social housing, now having a roof over their heads’.

The waiting list for social housing could be reduced by about 500,000 to around 1.3million if the sales went ahead, he added.

However, Councillor Mike Jones,
chairman of the Local Government Association’s housing board, said:
‘These are decisions that should be taken at a local level by councils
who best know the value of their housing stock and the extent and type
of housing needed in their area.’

Mother of eight Francesca Walker was placed in a £2.6m house in Notting Hill, west London at the taxpayers' expense

Mother of eight Francesca Walker was placed in a £2.6m house in Notting Hill, west London at the taxpayers’ expense

A single mother with three children was placed by her local council in a £1.5m mews house in Kensington, west London, four years ago

The seven-bedroom home in Acton, West London, where an Afghan family were placed at a cost of £2,875 a week to taxpayers

A single mother with three children was placed by her local council in a £1.5m mews house, left, in Kensington, west London, four years ago. Right, the seven-bedroom home in Acton, West London, where an Afghan family were placed at a cost of £2,875 a week to taxpayers

Labour said new homes were urgently
needed, but stressed that ‘driving out hard-working families on low
wages from whole neighbourhoods’ was not the answer.

The National Housing Federation
warned many towns would be ‘cleansed’ of ‘hard-working people who can’t
afford to pay high prices’. Around one in five of the country’s
3.8million council houses are worth more than the average home, with
some worth over £1million. Selling the 816,000 ‘costly’ council houses
would raise about £159billion.

About 3.5 per cent of the total stock
is vacated each year, as tenants move or die. If the Government sold
off this proportion of the costly homes – about 28,500 a year – it could
raise £4.5billion.

PERHAPS WE COULD START IN ISLINGTON?

£2million: A townhouse owned by Islington Council in London

£2million: A townhouse owned by Islington Council in London

This £2million Georgian townhouse in Islington, North London, is among the pricy properties that councils could be forced to sell off if the Policy Exchange’s proposals are pushed through.

The property underwent a £100,000 renovation last year, which created two more bedrooms for a total of six.

It is currently occupied by a Somali family of ten, who use housing benefits from Islington Council to pay a heavily discounted rent bill.

Another candidate for sale is a £1million council house in private mews in Chelsea, which was recently boarded up after its tenants were evicted.

Neighbours called for the four-bedroom property, which was empty for a year, to be sold and the profit used to help families who are desperate for a home.

It is still owned by Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council, but is no longer vacant.

For one council, the sell-off has already started. A vacant period mid-terrace house in Fulham went for £721,000 last month, while a three-bedroom flat was sold for £700,000.

A nearby property was sold for £705,000 in June.

Gone: House in Fulham worth £705,000

Gone: House in Fulham worth £705,000

Sold: House in Fulham worth £700,000

Sold: House in Fulham worth £700,000

Gone: House in Fulham worth £721,000

Gone: House in Fulham worth £721,000

DAME SHIRLEY PORTER’S HOME-FOR-VOTES SCANDAL


 Dame Shirley Porter

Dame Shirley Porter was at the heart of the Conservative Party during Baroness Thatcher’s reign and rose to great heights as the leader of Westminster Council.

She played a key role in a 1980s scandal that saw council homes sold off to potential Tory voters in marginal wards in a bid to boost Conservative election prospects.

In July 1987, Westminster Council’s housing committee voted to sell 500 council homes a year to designated tenants in a policy called ‘building stable communities.’

Conservative council leader, Shirley Porter, was determined to improve her party’s standing at the 1990 local elections as the previous year, the Conservative majority in the council had been reduced from 26 to four.

Between 1987 and 1989 Dame Shirley focused the housing policy on eight marginal wards in the borough.

At a fraction of their market value, properties were only offered for sale to tenants likely to vote Conservatives.

In theory owner-occupiers were viewed as more likely to vote Conservative and homes were left vacant to encourage their purchase.

In turn homeless families were discouraged from moving into the ring-fenced properties and Labour tenants were moved out into less critical areas.

After the scandal broke, an investigation was launched – the policy was judged illegal by the district auditor, and after years of wrangling Dame Shirley was made to repay Westminster Council £12.3 million.

Here’s what other readers have said. Why not add your thoughts,
or debate this issue live on our message boards.

The comments below have not been moderated.

Life isn’t fair but social housing policy is not levelling the playing field it is a misdirection of subsidy sometimes to those who do not need it!
– Liz, London, 20/8/2012 22:28 *** Indeed I am reminded of the union baron who is occupying council property thus denying a more worthy occupant the chance of a home, along with loads of Labour MP’s. I suppose you can pay them all large salaries but at heart they are all just socialist hypocrites.

It’s no good putting this in motion if tenants in private housing are able to carry on living in homes they could never afford., paid for by housing benefit. When we were young , you lived in private rented you could afford, which was often basic, we had no hot water in our terrace, after living in rooms in an old ladies house. MARRIED couples waited a long time for council housing. The introduction of Housing Benefit 1982 saw the start of people being given money no questions asked for housing they would never afford. Landlords got it paid straight to them and this culture has become ingrained. My husband was brought up in a 3 bed council house. I was brought up in an owned 2 bed house and shared with a sibling. When many bought their council houses after long tenancies, a lot of upgrading went on and areas like mine with a mix of private and bought council houses are nice areas. But no one could afford 7 children as the new resident of one of the still council owned one has.

One of two routes – a low wage economy that keeps a relative few in obscene wealth – they use to claim that we need wealthy people to provide work, they can no longer say that. Or we reward more and encourage work to increase the spending power and grow the economy and repay debt. The millionaires have taken over the power base and instinct is for their survival not ours. Some may claim it is envy, there are rich people I admire there are also many who have inherited money but not much else. Many of us could not envisage a worse government than some we have seen over the last 40 years – on that we were wrong,very wrong.

Stop giving aid to unworthy countries like Zimbabwe and charity starts at home, please wake up.

You really do have some nasty selfish people reading this trash. Am sure these ‘hard working’ folk would be happy for favela style shanty towns to be setup to house the poor. Disgusting ! – Steve, Birmingham, 20/8/2012 14:18 Why do you think that, maybe we just want people accommodated in reasonable housing that doesn’t cost a fortune. Don’t you get it, this country can’t afford it! The money wasted here is therefore not being spent on the NHS, the Old etc etc. The money has to come from somewhere. Socialist really live in their own world where everything is free and nothing needs rational thought
– Clint, London, 21/8/2012 6:41 Nonsense – I am not a socialist and never will be but the rubbish that is talked is worrying. Socialism is not about idle people sponging it means all must contribute – it is a theory. As is capitalism that needs and continues to keep a poor and relatively servile middle class so the system where the few can gorge on the national wealth continues,

You really do have some nasty selfish people reading this trash. Am sure these ‘hard working’ folk would be happy for favela style shanty towns to be setup to house the poor. Disgusting !
– Steve, Birmingham, 20/8/2012 14:18
Why do you think that, maybe we just want people accommodated in reasonable housing that doesn’t cost a fortune. Don’t you get it, this country can’t afford it! The money wasted here is therefore not being spent on the NHS, the Old etc etc. The money has to come from somewhere.
Socialist really live in their own world where everything is free and nothing needs rational thought

It makes a lot of sense. It is a scandal that high value properties which would normally have high rentals are used for social housing. If you can sell them and create the money that will create building jobs and provide cost effective social housing, that has got to be a win win position.

The rich get richer the poor get kicked in the teeth

Note the word COULD, the sale of these luxury houses COULD be invested in building extra social housing, not WILL, but COULD!

When all else fails, blame the poorest in society! Disenfranchise them, push them to outer and recreate the outstanding success of multi storey housing estates- builders and developers make more money, the ‘PROPER’ sort of people have the luxury of choosing where THEY want to live-EVERYBODY’S happy!!! You eejits…

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Get Adobe Flash player