Islington Council spends £6.2m retrieving Right to Buy housing it sold for £1.3m

Besant Court N1

Besant Court N1 - Credit: Archant

Islington Council has spent £6.2million buying back housing stock it had sold for less than £1.3m through the Right to Buy scheme, new figures reveal.

Of the 25 properties, one was sold for £17,600 in 2004 – at a discount of £26,400 – and bought back for £176,750 11 years later.

Right to Buy was introduced by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s to give people the chance to buy their council homes at huge discounts, but has been widely blamed for the lack of social housing ever since.

There was a surge in 2010 after the coalition government introduced a bigger discount for council tenants, so Islington and other authorities had more money to invest in housing.

But town halls only get to keep a proportion of the proceeds of sale, and that money must then be spent within three years or the government takes it back, with interest.

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A Freedom of Information request revealed the 25 homes were all bought back in 2015/16 – when the council launched a £6million programme to house families in desperate need.

It bought back in demand ground-floor properties and others sold over the years, though the council said it was now focusing on new builds.

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A spokesman said: “Like London, Islington faces a severe housing shortage and we’re always trying to increase the amount of local social housing.

“In 2015/16 we were especially keen to buy back properties in high social demand – such as ground floor flats accessible for older or disabled residents – and carried out a careful value for money appraisal for each property, buying at the low end of the market.

“We’re no longer buying back ex-council homes. Instead, we’re using monies from Right to Buy sales to fund an ambitious new build programme over coming years.

“We’ve now embarked on the biggest home-building programme in a generation: building 500 new council homes for social rent by 2019.”

Last year Islington was only able to let 1,200 homes, housing about 6 per cent of the 19,000 households on the waiting list. Less than half of those properties had more than one bedroom.

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