Lambeth council sold off more than 300 homes in seven years, says a new report from People’s Audit.
The sales, from 2010/11 to 2017/18, are in addition to nearly 600 properties already sold off in the ten years to 2010 – and do NOT include properties bought by council tenants under Right-To-Buy.
Using Land Registry data and other sources, Lambeth People’s Audit  say they found the seven-year sell-off raised £150 million for the borough – and cost over £1.5 million in staff and legal fees to implement.
But the capital receipts have not led to a boom in building new council homes says a People’s Audit statement – they found only NINE new council homes were built between 2014 and 2018.
Published today (Monday) the report (2) The Great Lambeth Housing Sell-Off details the fate of individual properties, including:
- Almost £100 million raised from selling former short-life properties in areas such as Clapham, Brixton and Crystal Palace, which had been owned by the council but maintained by their residents since the 1970s.
- £50 million raised from the sale of other properties in areas such as Camberwell, Kennington, West Norwood, Stockwell, Brixton and West Dulwich.
“Our report demonstrates the handover of what were once public assets to property developers (some of whom are based off-shore), buy-to-let private landlords and a number of wealthy individuals.
“After refurbishment some of these ex-council properties are home to some well off people including two members of the aristocracy and the heiress to a multi-million-pound fortune.
“It illustrates how many of the properties bought cheaply from Lambeth have since been sold on by their new owners for considerably higher sums.”
Lambeth People’s Audit say attempts to find out how the council has spent the money raised by the sell-off have been “frustrated by the council’s refusal to answer repeated Freedom of Information requests.
“But from publicly available data it appears very little has gone to fund new housing – capital spending has gone predominantly to schools and resurfacing roads and pavements.”
The statement concludes: “Meanwhile, Lambeth council announced in 2018 it will borrow £300 million from the government to fund a new home-building programme.”
(1) Who are the People’s Audit: http://www.thepeoplesaudit.info/about-2/
(2) The Great Lambeth Housing Sell-Off: http://www.thepeoplesaudit.info/reports-from-lambeth-peoples-audit/the-great-lambeth-council-housing-sell-off/
- In the financial years between 2010/2011 and 2017/2018 Lambeth council have raised over £150 million by selling off its property and housing stock, says the People’s Audit Lambeth report.
This figure includes just under £100 million that the council has raised through the controversial sell-off of its short-life co-op properties.
This amounts to the loss of more than 330 council housing units and land on which more than 450 housing units could be built, the report adds.
“The figures above exclude a further £92 million that the council have raised from Right to Buy receipts in the same period.
“Whilst this report focuses on properties sold off since 2010, it is worth noting the sell-off of property represents the tail end of a more long term policy to sell off assets. “In the 10 years prior to 2010 Lambeth raised over £248 million by selling off close to 600 (non-Right-to-Buy) properties.” (1)
LAMBETH COUNCIL RESPONSE:
Cllr Andy Wilson, Lambeth’s cabinet member for finance, said: “We have endured a decade of government budget cuts, amounting to over 50pc in our core funding – over £230m – slashed from our budget between 2010 and 2020. And we now need to find another £44m of savings over the next four years.
“Like councils all over the country, we have to find the money wherever we can to keep funding our priority services. This has largely come from making savings across the organisation, while avoiding ill-advised moves like running down the council’s reserves.
“Our property disposals are part of a sensible policy of selling surplus land and buildings to help pay for front-line services. “As a result of prudent and considered disposals of council assets we have been able to save £36m from internal financing. “This is because we have delayed external borrowing.
“The properties listed, including former short-life houses, were surplus properties. “The proceeds went into general council funds, helping pay for key services including education, social care and housing. “This administration has chosen to realise wealth that was benefitting the few and use it for the benefit of the many.”
…TO WHICH PEOPLE’S AUDIT LAMBETH HAVE RESPONDED ON TWITTER:
The #Lambeth response in this article is that they had to sell off property due to austerity cuts. Problem with that statement is that their policy started in 1997, 13 years before austerity. Try again.