Whopping 332 council houses sold in Northampton...but only 11 have been replaced

Figures show Northampton Borough Council is falling way behind on its council house rebuilding strategy. Campaigner Norman Adams believes the authority has the money - it needs to spend it.

Figures show Northampton Borough Council is falling way behind on its council house rebuilding strategy. Campaigner Norman Adams believes the authority has the money - it needs to spend it.

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Ninety seven per cent of social homes bought by their tenants in Northampton have not been replaced by the council since 2012, new figures have revealed, leaving the authority woefully short of the Government target.

The Right to Buy scheme, which was introduced in the 1980s and reformed in 2012, enables social housing tenants to buy their rented property with a discount that can be up to £77,900 outside London.

The Government’s Right to Buy website says money raised through such sales “goes towards building new affordable homes for rent.”

But if authorities do not replace a sold council house after three years they have to pay money back to central government.

Figures obtained by Freedom of Information request show Northampton Borough Council is lagging woefully behind the target.

Since the 2012/13 financial year the council has sold 332 properties under Right to Buy - but has acquired only 11 homes.

Social housing campaigner Norman Adams said the borough is failing in its housing strategy. He said: “The council has taken around £16 million in capital receipts from Right to Buy, and from that it has kept around £12 million.

“That is more than enough to acquire new sites or build them.

“At the end of the three years we have to give money back to the Government with interest - so go and spend the money in the open market if you have to rather than just sending it back.”

Comparative figures show that, in Northamptonshire, both Kettering and Corby borough councils are faring better, with a replacement rate of 15 and 14 per cent respectively.

Kettering sold 90 homes under Right to Buy and has started or acquired 13 replacements.

But the figures in Northampton further add to fears of a social housing crisis, as hundreds of families wait stranded on the waiting list. Most of the houses sold under Right to Buy were two or three-bed properties and average sale price of the homes was around £48,000.

Nationally, figures show around a quarter of all money raised by councils through Right to Buy since 2012 has gone straight back to the Treasury.

Since 2012, only £588.3 million has been was left for councils to build replacement homes, with a total of £929.4 million used for other purposes.

A Northampton Borough Council spokesman, said: “The council is working with several developers to introduce new, affordable housing in the local area. Whilst the one-for-one replacement scheme does allow local authorities to use money from the sale of Right to Buy properties, this amount is capped at 30 per cent of the sale value, meaning additional sources of finance are needed in order to make up the shortfall and to have enough to start planning and building new housing developments.

“Local authorities are under huge pressure to make more and more savings as budgets get tighter, making it hard to find the additional finances needed to fund new properties at the same rate they are being bought. However, we are actively working on how best to use the revenue from Right to Buy to meet the housing needs of the Northampton population.”