The Green Group of Councillors on Brighton & Hove City Council say they have secured a success at the Council’s Housing Committee that may avoid the sale and loss of Brighton’s dwindling social housing stock.
In an amendment to current Housing Revenue budget proposals last week, the Greens say they gained a firm commitment that the Council will explore ways to raise funds without selling off social housing.
The proposals are in response to a new Government policy known as the ‘right to buy levy’, which forces local authorities to sell off their higher value council homes when they become vacant. In what has been labelled ‘tenants tax’, the money raised by the Government levy is then used to subsidise the right to buy for Housing Association tenants.
Brighton and Hove City Council have now agreed to produce a report detailing all the alternative options for paying the levy, rather than resorting to the sale of any of Brighton and Hove’s social housing.
The amendment also called for a working group to be set up to consult with tenants, members of all parties and officers about the associated issues.
Green Group Councillor David Gibson, who proposed the amendment, said: “We are delighted that Housing Committee have committed to looking at the ways we can avoid more social housing being sold – and irrevocably lost.
“Right to Buy has a very harmful impact on local authorities, particularly here in Brighton and Hove, where we are drastically short of the amount of social housing and affordable rents the city needs. Since 1983 successive Governments have overseen the loss of almost 4 million council homes.
“It is vital we retain and expand on truly affordable housing in the city. Given that private rents in our city are 50% more than the national average, and that council housing is the only truly affordable housing, I’m pleased we have succeeded in getting the Committee to support this approach.”
Cllr Anne Meadows, Chair of the Housing and New Homes Committee responded, saying: “We are concerned by the government proposals for selling off high value empty council properties to fund right to buy for housing associations tenants. We are waiting for confirmation of what the final scheme will involve and what our options will be, and are committed to doing all we can to avoid having to sell our properties.”