HC Deb 25 June 2003 vol 407 cc857-8W
Mr. Hancock

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what criteria were used to decide which local authorities in the South East Region could temporarily suspend the Right to Buy; and which have been granted this power. [120320]

Keith Hill

There has been no suspension of the Right to Buy in any area, but nine local areas in the South East Region were included in the Housing (Right to Buy) (Limits on Discount) (Amendment) Order 2003—Statutory Instrument 2003 No. 498—which came into effect on 27 March 2003. These areas were

  • Chiltern;
  • Epsom and Ewell;
  • Hart;
  • Oxford;
  • Reading;
  • Reigate and Banstead;
  • Tonbridge and Mailing;
  • Vale of White Horse;
  • and West Berkshire.

The Order lowered the maximum Right to Buy discount available to tenants from £38,000 to £16,000 in 41 areas under the greatest housing market pressure as evidenced by high levels of homelessness and high local house prices. This was determined on the basis of two measures: homelessness—reflecting high demand for social housing. Using information provided by local authorities themselves in their regular Housing Investment Programme returns, the number of homeless households in temporary accommodation was compared with the number of local authority lettings and nominations to Registered Social Landlord dwellings given to households who were not homeless. A high value for this ratio indicates high homelessness and/or a low number of available lettings; and house prices—reflecting the demand for private housing and affordability. The Land Registry lower quartile house price for the third quarter of 2002 was used, to indicate likely availability for first time buyers.

The model was rerun subsequently to take into account local earnings information. The effect was marginal and insufficient to justify further changes.