Imagine you own your house, with no mortgage, and then the Government says that it really owns the house but they will give you a loan for the full value so that you can buy it back! Not good news so far, but if you are renting it out then it is going to get a whole lot worse. They legislate to allow the tenant to buy it off you but at a discount in the region of £70,000.
This is what life is like for councils who own their housing stock. Obviously, this 'Right-to-Buy' (R-T-B) scheme is popular with tenants so that, each year the number of houses that councils own reduces despite demand going up. But the Government haven't finished yet, they take a chunk of the sales receipts and tell the council to build a replacement house with what is left - often less than 50% of the cost of a new building.
"Ah but" I hear you say, the Government give councils grants such as the Affordable Housing Programme, however these funds cannot be combined with R-T-B receipts. Is it any wonder that councils have only been able to replace about a third of the houses sold under this scheme.
Councils are urgently trying to reduce the number of people on council house waiting lists and those in temporary accommodation but the Government's policies are pushing more and more families into the private rented sector which drives up housing benefit demands.
At best this process could have been designed by Hacker's civil service team from 'Yes Minister' but maybe, just maybe, it is designed to help Tory supporters who make up the majority of the private rented sector - though being a landlord isn't as attractive as it once was.
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