As Brighton & Hove City Council spends £1.2m to buy back property they sold for £190k – Greens say flogging off housing wastes public money.
Green councillors are calling for lessons to be learned on future sales of council housing stock as the Labour Council prepares to buy back a property it previously sold for £190k at a cost of £1.2m in order to meet housing demand.
The property in Queens Park ward was sold by the Council in 1999, under a set of restrictions that ensured accommodation within the buildings would be let at affordable ‘social rent’ levels.
A report to the councils Housing and New Homes Committee (Wednesday 14) revealed that the current housing association owners now wished to sell the property on the open market.
In a move to protect the supply of affordable housing in the city, the committee approved a recommendation that the Council buy the property back at a cost of £1.2m.
Demand in Brighton & Hove for social housing is high, with over 17,000 people currently on the waiting list for council homes.
Greens stress that previous decisions to sell old council properties to companies like Seaside Homes have reduced the amount of available social rented housing and have also voiced concerns over plans to increase the rent levels for the property, which make it less affordable for those on low incomes.
David Gibson, Green Councillor and Housing Spokesperson, said: “Here in Brighton and Hove we are drastically short of providing the amount of truly affordable rents and social housing the city needs. Instead of keeping existing homes and building more, Labour and Conservative governments sold off homes through the disastrous ‘right to buy’ scheme for years – over 2,000 were lost to our city this way. In 2006 Labour even tried to transfer all our council housing to a housing association.
“The Labour Council is now in a position of having to spend £1.2m buying back a property it originally sold off for £190k. But the loss made on buying back this home shows the flaws in flogging off our housing stock.
“With house prices so high and still rising, Greens say the council should be buying more housing, not selling it off. Greens support bringing housing back into council ownership but it should never have been sold in the first place. We continue to push the Labour Council to bring emergency and temporary accommodation in-house, instead of forking out millions of pounds in public money to private landlords.
“Greens will hold the council to account over the increased costs of rent planned for these new properties. We want to see the cost of rent set at ‘living rent’ levels – to ensure any new accommodation is genuinely affordable to those on low incomes. We must secure a better deal for our tenants. In the end, it’s clear that they are the ones who lose out when the council sells off properties the city desperately needs.”
Green councillors have campaigned for more genuinely affordable housing for the city and were successful in pushing the council to lower rents on new housing schemes, including the ‘Joint Venture’ with Hyde Homes. Greens have also pushed the council to double the budget available to reclaim properties sold under the ‘right to buy’ scheme.