Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has attacked the Tory record on the Right to Buy scheme as really ‘Forced to Fail’. Mr Farron's criticism came as Town halls have handed almost £50m in unspent Right to Buy revenue earmarked for replacement council housing back to government.
Figures obtained by Inside Housing under the Freedom of Information Act show councils have £46.5m already been given back to the Treasury. Councils have three years to spend the portion of Right to Buy receipts earmarked for replacement homes, before having to hand the money to the Treasury - with interest.
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said 14 councils had returned the money. This time limit, along with excessive red tape and bureaucracy means that councils cannot build the homes we desperately need in the allotted time. As a result, they have to return the funds.
Ministers have previously claimed cash raised from the sales is to be earmarked for use building replacement affordable homes on a one-for-one basis and that councils will also be obliged to sell their most expensive housing when it falls vacant with the receipts used to provide new affordable homes in the same area. Any surplus left will have to be used to fund the Right to Buy for Housing Association tenants.
Attacking the honesty of the government Tim Farron said: "The government has said time and time again that homes would be replaced virtually like for like. This has been shown to be a blatant lie. Councils are having to hand back millions as they cannot spend it." Mr Farron lambasted the scheme as "now not Right to Buy but Forced to Fail."
At a time of a housing shortage after a lack of investment in house building by both Labour & Conservative governments Tim Farron attacked the current government's position as a 'travesty' saying Councils "Being forced to hand this cash back is a disgrace but the thought that this means another person or family doesn't have a home is a travesty."
Mr Farron concluded his comments by taking a swipe at the Conservative record stating that "the Conservatives talk about aspiration but then don’t deliver it."