Sell expensive social housing to fund new homes, urges thinktank

Selling highest-value properties could generate £4.5bn to build up to 170,000 social homes a year, says Policy Exchange

Expensive social housing should be sold to fund house-building, a report has urged.

Putting the highest-value properties on the market when they become vacant could generate £4.5bn to build up to 170,000 social homes a year, according to Policy Exchange.

The influential thinktank – set up by the Conservative MP Nick Boles, a key ally of David Cameron – estimates the move could reduce the housing waiting list by 600,000 in five years.

Its report, Ending Expensive Social Tenancies, says properties worth more than the average house price for an area account for one in five of the social housing stock.

The 816,000 homes have a total value of £159bn, with £71.9bn of that in London. About 3.5% of the buildings become vacant each year and, after debts are paid off, would raise £4.5bn.

The report suggests the money should be set aside to build additional homes, and recommended introducing spending guidelines to ensure stock-quality standards are driven higher.

Alex Morton, the report’s author, said: “Expensive social housing is costly, unpopular and unfair. That is why almost everybody rejects it. Social housing tenants deserve a roof over their heads – but not one better than most people can afford, particularly as expensive social housing means less social housing and so longer waiting lists for most people in need.”

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