Croydon’s Labour-run council saw the borough’s stock of council homes reduced by 140 in a single year, according to official figures, while neighbouring boroughs suffered no net change to their borough’s number of council houses.
Thatcherite Right-to-Buy policies, with enhanced discounts for council tenants who want to buy their homes, have been widely blamed for the increased rate of sell-offs of public property.
The Tory Government’s restrictions on what local authorities can then do with the receipts from these bargain basement price sales has further hindered the building of replacement social housing, meaning that ever greater numbers of people are forced to look to the private rented sector to find a home.
But a breakdown by borough of city-wide figures which Inside Croydon published last week show that while – in the midst of the housing crisis – some councils have overseen a rapid decline in the number of properties they have available for their residents, others have done a much better job of at least maintaining a status quo.
Croydon Council has built no council homes since Tony Newman became leader of the council in 2014.
In 2016-2017, according to the figures released last week by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, there was a London-wide loss of 3,600 council homes.
Meanwhile, neighbouring Bromley, a Conservative-controlled borough, reports no change in the number of council homes it has available. Likewise, in LibDem-run Sutton, there was no change. Wandsworth (a Conservative-run south London borough) reported zero change in its number of council homes available for rent.
And even in Labour-controlled Lambeth, where there is a policy underway of council estate clearances, first instigated under then council leader Steve Reed, they lost only half as many council homes in the same 12-month period as Croydon.
Sian Berry, the Green Party London Assembly Member who obtained the statistics, told The Canary: “Londoners’ housing needs mean we should be seeing a net gain of more than 30,000 council homes each year, so it’s shocking and disastrous to see that up to last year we lost more than 3,600 council homes instead.
“The new stats for each borough show this is partly due to speculators driving Right to Buy sales in high value areas like Islington, but the drop in council home numbers is also more acute in some boroughs with big ‘regeneration’ programmes, like Ealing and Barnet.
“Responsibility for this has to lie ultimately with the Mayor. London clearly needs more powers over housing policy to put a brake on Right to Buy. But our councils also need to stop knocking down our existing homes, and our Mayor needs to do more to prevent this with the powers he already has.”
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