St Albans district could face a £30m bill because of new Housing Bill
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More than £30 million could be lost from the district council under government housing plans, according to estimates released by a homeless charity.
The forced sale of vacant high value council homes under the Housing and Planning Bill could see up to 2,992 St Albans council homes sold and homeless charity Shelter has said there is no guarantee the money will be put back into the area.
The charity has estimated that St Albans stands to lose £31,040,385.31 over the current government’s time in office.
The money raised from the forced sales will largely be spent on extending the new Right to Buy discounts for Housing Association tenants, and although the government has committed to replace homes in London two for one, there is no commitment to the rest of the country.
There is currently no confirmation that homes in St Albans will even be replaced like for like and for every nine of homes sold off nationally via Right to Buy, only one replaces them.
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Former St Albans MP and former chair of housing at St Albans district council, Kerry Pollard, strongly opposes the sell off of the vacant council homes. He said: “It short changes St Albans massively.
“The idea that we would sell off more when we have families living in B&Bs is outrageous.”
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Kerry continued: “This is not an over-reaction; if more of our council stock is lost, where are the people on the waiting list going to go?”
Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Our desperate shortage of genuinely affordable homes is leaving millions of people across the country struggling to find a stable place to live.
“Yet at a time when cash-strapped local authorities are already at breaking point, the government plans to force them to sell millions of pounds worth of the few genuinely affordable homes they have left.
“It’s good that the government has finally recognised our growing housing crisis, but selling off council homes to pay for Right to Buy discounts of up to £100,000, or £450,000 starter homes, are not going to solve it. To give ordinary families any real hope of a stable future, the government must prioritise investing in homes that people on low or average incomes can actually afford to rent or buy.”
Estimates released by Shelter in October, based on the East of England threshold, show that one bedroom properties worth more than £155,000 to five-plus bedroom properties worth more than £635,000 could be sold off.
This means that St Albans district council could be forced to sell up to 60 per cent of its council housing stock once properties become empty.
Karen Dragovic, St Albans council’s head of housing, said: “We cannot comment on the figures issued by Shelter for a number of reasons.
“We are waiting for the definition of a high-value home to be determined by the Housing Bill. We are also waiting for details on how the amount paid by local authorities is to be calculated.”