The Telegraph is giving prominent coverage to a proposal that councils should sell their most valuable council houses and use the money to build more homes. The think tank Policy Exchange believes that this could create thousands of jobs in the construction industry and help to alleviate the shortage of social housing. Research quoted in the Telegraph suggests that more than 20% of council house tenants in England and Wales live in properties worth more than the average private sector home in the same area. Policy Exchange believes that £4.5bn could be raised each year by selling off expensive houses and building more new ones. Landlord insurance clients might well be buyers of ex-council property. It is often well constructed and situated in popular areas surrounded by highly priced private housing.
Housing Minister Grant Shapps responded by saying that he urged councils to consider following the key recommendations to sell their most valuable properties and use the housing stock as efficiently as possible. He said “Where you have houses which are worth millions, you could sell them and build a lot more homes to help sometimes vulnerable people come off the waiting list”.
According to the Policy Exchange, a third of all social housing is worth more than surrounding private properties. In Yorkshire and the North West the figure is apparently around 20%.
According to Grant Shapps, there is evidence that independent housing associations are already selling their most expensive homes to finance a larger number of new ones. It remains to be seen whether local councils will do the same.