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Warning right-to-buy 'will grind to a halt' without fiscal freedoms

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The number of homes sold off through the right-to-buy and not replaced in the past five years is enough to house the population of Oxford, Canterbury or Reading, according to the Local Government Association.

The organisation is warning the scheme “will grind to a halt” if councils are not given the financial freedoms to replace more of the homes sold through the right-to-buy (RTB).

Councils are only allowed to keep a third of all RTB receipts and have to spend those within three years or hand the money back to the Treasury with interest.

Since 2012, a total of 54,581 homes have been sold off under the scheme. Councils have only been able to start building 12,472 replacement homes in that time.

That leaves a shortfall of 42,109 homes – enough to house 168,000 people if each home included four family members, or the equivalent population of Reading, Canterbury or Oxford, the LGA said.

Martin Tett (Con), the LGA’s housing spokesman, said the RTB “will quickly become a thing of the past” if chancellor Philip Hammond does not use the Budget on 22 November to give councils the powers they need to replace properties at scale.

“If we are to stand a real chance of solving our housing shortage, councils need the funding and powers to replace any homes sold under RTB quickly and reinvest in building more of the genuine affordable homes our communities desperately need,” he said. “Alongside the ability to borrow to invest in housing, the autumn Budget needs to hand councils the ability to retain 100% of receipts from sales, combine those receipts with other funding to build replacements and set RTB discounts locally so they reflect the cost of houses in the area.”

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