Right to Buy press release

Lib Dem campaigners could ask their local council how many houses have been sold in their areas.

£3.5 billion right-to-buy ‘firesale’ threatens socially rented council housing

Liberal Democrats are warning that the number of homes still owned by [OUR COUNCIL] is continuing to fall.

New analysis by the Local Government Association (LGA) reveals almost £3.5 billion in Right to Buy (RTB) discounts have been handed out to council tenants and sparked a social housing “firesale”.

The average discount has increased by 132 per cent to more than £60,000 in 2016/17 – selling properties at almost half price.

Councils are warning that this has led to a quadrupling in the number of RTB sales, which they have been unable to keep up with and replace.

The current RTB system only allows councils to keep a third of each RTB receipt to build a replacement home and prevents local authorities from borrowing to make up the shortfall.

As a result, councils cannot replace the numbers of homes sold, impacting on their ability to provide housing for homeless and vulnerable families.

LGA analysis reveals:

  • In 2016/17, the average discount for a council tenant purchasing under RTB was £61,810 – 43 per cent of property value
  • A total of nearly 58,000 council homes have been sold under RTB in six years

[YOUR NAME] is asking for councils to be given the choice over whether to continue with RTB, and if they do, to set discounts locally and keep 100 per cent of sale receipts to replace homes.

Council leaders are also urging the Government to accept the calls of both the LGA and the cross-party Treasury Select Committee, and completely scrap the cap on the amount councils can borrow to invest in new and existing homes.

[YOUR NAME] said:


“Giving away council homes at a discount of nearly half price had led to an unsustainable social housing fire sale. The rate of homes sold under RTB combined with the restrictions on councils is making replacing homes sold virtually impossible.

“This loss of social rented housing risks pushing more families into the private rented sector, driving up housing benefit spending and rents and exacerbating our homelessness crisis. This is particularly concerning as many of the homes sold through the scheme ended up being rented out privately at more expensive rates.

“This cannot continue. Councils must be able to replace every home sold. Councils must be allowed retain Right to Buy sale receipts in full to replace sold homes, and be given the freedom to borrow to build new affordable homes and play a lead role in tackling the country’s housing shortage.”


  1. The Right to Buy (RTB) scheme allows eligible council (and housing association tenants with preserved RTB) in England to buy their home at a discount. It was introduced by the Housing Act 1980 in England, since then over 1.8 million properties have been purchased by tenants.
  2. Tenants get a 35 per cent discount if they have been a tenant for between three and five years. After five years, the discount goes up by 1 per cent for every extra year they’ve been a tenant, up to a maximum of 70 per cent – or £77,900 across England and £103,900 in London boroughs (whichever is lower). Tenants must have been a public sector tenant for at least three years in order to qualify for the Right to Buy. Tenants can exercise the Right to Buy jointly with members of their family that have lived with them for the past 12 months, or with someone who is a joint tenant.
  3. Since 2012/13 councils have sold 55,171 homes under RTB and started building 11,357 homes. Assuming all starts are completed this would equal a loss of around 44,000 social rented homes in five years.

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