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Concerns about impact of right-to-buy plans on supply should be taken seriously

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High profile announcements of plans to devolve more powers to big cities have hogged the headlines over the past week. But while the proposed cities devolution bill will understandably get a lot of airtime over the coming months, there are more immediate implications of the change in government for councils. 

First among these is the new finance settlement for local government, determining as it will how councils must cut their cloth in coming years.  Whatever comes out of the emergency Budget in July, and expected comprehensive spending review later this year, it is unlikely to spell anything other than further significant cuts for councils. It is cold comfort that it’s far from clear whether authorities would have faced an easier ride under a government of a different colour or make-up.

The Conservatives’ pledge to force councils to sell off expensive properties to fund an extension of the right-to-buy to housing association tenants was at the core of their manifesto. However, reservation about the scheme is widespread, with even Conservative councillors publicly expressing concern about the proposal, and real fears about the impact on the availability of family homes for council tenants, especially in London. This should be taken seriously if councils are not to be left within an even greater housing shortage in future.

However, with only a slim majority in the Commons and the party significantly outnumbered by Labour and the Liberal Democrats in the Lords, not to mention cross benchers, the government could find it difficult to pass the necessary legislation.  

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