Tower Hamlets council houses ‘sold off to buy-to-let’ private landlords

John Biggs touring East End's social housing

John Biggs touring East End's social housing - Credit: Archant

Social housing is being sold off in London’s deprived East End far quicker than building replacements, it has emerged.

Many ex-council flats and houses are snapped up by private landlords investing in buy-to-let property, London Assembly members have been told.

Now the Assembly’s budget chairman John Biggs is calling for local authorities like Tower Hamlets—with London’s longest housing waiting list—to be given new powers to invest in building more homes.

“The government’s Right to Buy scheme is reducing council housing on a devastating scale,” he said.

“It’s making it harder for families in areas like the East End to get affordable housing.

The government has made it easier for people to buy their council homes—but has failed to give local authorities the means to replace those which are sold.”

Biggs, who represents east London at City Hall, wants urgent action “to prevent social housing plummeting” in areas like Tower Hamlets, which has a waiting list with 22,000 families in need of social housing.

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His call comes after a report which found more homes set to be sold through the Right To Buy scheme over the next 10 years than the numbers under construction for social housing.

Half the former Tower Hamlets council homes that were sold off, the report adds, are now being let by landlords in the private rented sector.

The report by the Assembly’s Labour group housing spokesman Tom Copley shows deprived inner-London boroughs can expect six council homes to be sold for every five replacements.

The erosion is even worse further out, his report forecasts, with two homes being sold off in outer suburban areas for every new one completed.