Originally published on April 14 on Inside Edge 2, my blog for Inside Housing
Day two of the Lords report stage on the Housing Bill brought concessions on forced sales but there were inevitably more questions too.
Peers reached Part 4 of the Bill covering social housing in England and the main business of the day was the first two chapters: implementation of the voluntary right to buy and the levy on sales of high value council houses to pay for it.
This has always been one of the elements of the legislation that most resembled the back of a fag packet. The only figures ever published on how forced sales would work came in a Conservative party press release during the election campaign. This suggested that the most valuable third of council homes would be sold as they fall vacant, with values assessed against regional thresholds by bedroom size.
That raised many problems but two that stood out in particular. First, setting the values like that would mean local authorities in areas with high house prices would lose virtually all of their stock.
Second, it didn’t stack up: receipts would simply not be enough to cover right to buy discounts, the promised replacement homes and a proposed brownfield regeneration fund. That was clear right at the start and the CIH estimated the shortfall at £2.2bn.