Kirklees Council leader fury over right to buy council homes bonanza

TENANTS in Kirklees are jumping at the chance to buy their council homes.

Mehboob Khan

TENANTS in Kirklees are jumping at the chance to buy their council homes .

Nationally the number has more than doubled. and that figure is reflected in Kirklees.

The area recorded 110 sales in 2012/13 – 205% more than the previous year.

But a local politician is concerned the trend is depriving others of the chance of a home.

Figures show that the number of homes sold between April 2012 and April 2013 totalled 5,942.

That is more than double the number sold in the previous year and the highest number of sales since 2007.

Leeds had 186 sales, a jump from 118 the previous year and double the number sold in 2010/11.

Launched in April last year the reinvigorated Right to Buy offers eligible tenants discounts of up to £75,000 off the value of their home over the coming year.

The figures account only for sales of council-owned properties.

In addition thousands of housing association tenants can also take up their preserved Right to Buy – meaning even more people will be able to become homeowners thanks to the scheme.

Housing Minister Mark Prisk said the Government was determined to help people who work hard and want to get on.

He said: “I’m delighted that so many tenants are choosing to seize the opportunity to get on the property ladder.”

But Kirklees Council leader Mehboob Khan said: “Giving away a council property that the taxpayer has paid for and for a fraction of its value means that at times of austerity some individuals will benefit massively while others will lose out because there is not a home for them.

“This is one of the biggest wastes of public money that all taxpayers have paid for with a gain of £60,000 to £70,000.

“And in some circumstances some of these people may have been in receipt of Housing Benefit for all their lives.

“Their are over 15,000 applicants on the average council’s waiting list and an acute shortage of decent, affordable housing for key workers and older people.

“The Government needs to invest in more housing to kickstart the economy.”

He said he also had concerns about properties ending up in the hands of private sector landlords who he claimed did not always keep up with the necessary investment and left “blots” on the landscape.

Despite his anger the Government is anxious to press ahead with plans for tenants to be eligible to buy their homes even more quickly than before.

Currently, tenants need to have lived in their council property for at least five years but under measures announced in the Queen’s Speech this is set to be reduced to just three years, significantly increasing the number of people able to take up the offer.

 
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