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Suspension of Right to Buy

Published: 12/11/2015

A report seeking the suspension of tenants’ Right to Buy (RTB) council owned housing in Flintshire is to be considered by the Council’s Cabinet at its meeting on Tuesday, 17 November. Between 1980 and 2007 around 134,600 council homes in Wales were sold to tenants. Flintshire County Council has lost 822 council homes since 1996 to RTB and the county has an annual shortfall of 246 affordable homes Following the 2012 Housing Ballot, when an overwhelming number of council tenants voted to retain the council as their landlord, the Council has worked to modernise its housing service and over the next six years will be spending £111 million to bring its 7,200 Council homes up to the Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS). Planning applications have now been submitted for council and social housing developments at the former Walks site in Flint and the site of the former Custom House Lane School in Connah’s Quay as part of the council’s Strategic Housing and Regeneration Programme (SHARP) to build 500 new council (200) and affordable (300) homes. Current tenants and those allocated to new properties in the future could exercise their RTB and these homes and the rental income they generate would be lost to the Council. This could potentially require the Council to revise its vision for both the WHQS and SHARP. Given that it is not certain that legislation to end RTB will be introduced following next year’s Welsh Assembly election the council is exercising the option for all stock-retaining local authorities such as Flintshire to apply to the Welsh Government to suspend RTB in its area. Swansea and Carmarthenshire Councils have already successfully applied to the Welsh Government to exercise this option. Cllr Aaron Shotton, Leader of the Council, said: “Many people who cannot afford to buy a home, or to rent a home from a private landlord in the current financial climate are dependent on social housing. “It is common knowledge that there is a shortage of affordable housing across Wales and the rest of the UK. Every property that the Council sells through the RTB reduces our ability to provide affordable social housing to meet local need, so the suspension of RTB in Flintshire would be sensible, welcome and long over- due.” Should the council’s Cabinet approve the report a comprehensive consultation will begin immediately with all key stakeholders, including existing Council and Housing Association Tenants, the Flintshire Tenants Federation and local Housing Associations.