We’re going to knock down council houses now?

Tens of thousands of social rented homes will vanish by 2020 unless councils are given beefed-up powers to build houses, town halls chiefs warn today.

At least 80,000 council and housing association homes are set to disappear without an overhaul of the system, the Local Government Association says.

It fears the £25billion annual housing benefit bill will rocket by £210million within four years as more families move into the more expensive private rented sector.


The LGA predicts the housing crisis will intensify as 66,000 council homes are sold to tenants under existing Right to Buy rules, with “complex rules and restrictions” making it difficult for councils to build replacements.

Ah, no, we’re not. We’re going to change the ownership of extant structures, not destroy them.

So, that’s OK then.

9 thoughts on “We’re going to knock down council houses now?”

  1. I also think the 25B is a huge number they could do something about, but if it “rockets” by nearly a whole percent over four years we can probably live with that.

    And what will they raise? 100k each? So 8BN of debt you won’t be putting on your grandchildren, in exchange for 210M added going forward as a problem to be solved. Sounds OK in the current situation.

    And given .GOV pays the 25BN, mainly to private landlords each year, they could probably use their buying power to negotiate new contracts down by the 0.8%

  2. Well, actually we are – Cameron wants to demolish some sink estates!
    That’s on top of all the 1940’s prefabs and all the 60s tower blocks that have already been knocked down because they weren’t fit to live in. Back home large chunks of 1930s council houses have been torn down for the same reason (admittedly some of those due to tenants rather than design faults but one estate built by the council in the 1930s had no inside toilets).
    Maybe the LGA might like to enumerate how many council houses have being demolished as unfit in the last twenty years and, in comparison, how many have been sold?

  3. Is there anything actually wrong with local authorities being allowed to build housing for themselves? Or is it just the fear that they’ll load up on debt and build Shard-sized white elephants named after local mayors?

  4. Speaking as someone with a foot in several camps – it’s a metaphor, no comments from the pedants please, I only have two feet in reality !
    I now live in what was once a council house – built as part of an estate in the 60s. I don’t know the figures as to how many are now privately owned and how many are still social – but the private ownership has “significantly improved” the area, and the perception of it.
    They weren’t the best built houses (as I’m finding out during renovations work), but they were also far from being the worst. And as was common for their day, they are on generous sized plots – a modern development would get *at least* 50% more houses on the same land.
    I’ve seen the original covenant between the council and the lady (long since deceased) that bought it – it really wasn’t the “have a house at knockdown price, go and sell it at a profit” deal some have suggested. The discount was dependent on having lived in it for some years already, and there was a clawback clause that would claw back that discount (on a taper basis) if the same occupier didn’t continue to own and live in it for another 5 years.

    The real problem is that the councils didn’t build more to replace them – I gather the rules prevented them, and if that is so then it was a “big mistake”.
    Given the advantages councils have – ask yourself for planning permission, access to funding other can’t get, and just shear scale as a developer – I would have thought they would be one of the best placed bodies for getting large numbers of new houses built. At least, if the rules allowed them.

    Now speaking from another position, I’m also a private landlord. I don’t gouge my tenants – but it’s a business and I have to make a profit or there’s no point. If I were told that my tenants would get a legal right to buy my property then I’d be “rather miffed” to say the least. I could see drawn out legal challenges if that were ever mooted.
    If people think we (landlords in general) are charging too much, then the answer is more availability (ie build lots more houses !) – then as TW has gone on at length about for various markets, prices would fall until supply and demand were back in step. It’s quite simple really, if I were charging an above market rent then I’d not find tenants, the fact that I have willing tenants suggest that my rents are in line with the market.
    Taxing private landlords and giving corporate ones simply moves the hole – it does nothing to fill it in. It will increase rents and lower standards – you ask many tenants of corporate landlords what it’s like phoning up and asking for “the landlord”, the bigger the more impersonal the service.

  5. @ Andrew M
    Absence of an independent bod to ensure quality control. We haven’t had any private-sector tower blocks dynamited because they were unfit to live in.
    I am (shock! horror!) in favour of councils building houses for poor people to live in and if they can buy land without planning permissioon at a fair price then allocate themselves planning permission that’s no skin off my nose. But we need quality control. In my youth the local paper ran an article about the block of council houses where tenants had to drag their dustbins through the houses because the Borough Architect had designed a terrace with backyards but no back street or side passages.
    Let’s have councils building – but some quality control would be nice.

  6. Sometimes it really is that simple, if there is a supply and demand at a certain price then that price can be considered reasonable to most people.

  7. If I were charging an above market rent then I’d not find tenants, the fact that I have willing tenants suggest that my rents are in line with the market.

    In the UK, of course, housing benefit distorts the market considerably. I have no idea whether this has any material impact on your situation.

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