England

Southern councils selling off homes through Right to Buy

House Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Freedom of Information requests showed councils were selling off homes faster than they were building them

Social housing in the south of England is being sold off four times as fast as it is being replaced, a BBC investigation has found.

Southampton City Council is losing homes at the fastest rate, despite generating £24m through the Right to Buy Scheme since 2015.

Homes in Reading are being sold twice as quickly as they are built, with the council making £7m.

Leaders said the government was making it difficult to reinvest in new homes.

John Ennis, Reading Borough Councillor for housing, said the town was "facing a real crisis of homelessness and a lack of affordable accommodation".

"Affordability has become a real issue, we know it's a national crisis and we are feeling it here," he added.

A government spokesman said since 2010, councils across the country had delivered "94% of the replacements required to meet the one-for-one target".

He added: "We're ambitious to do much more which is why we're already investing over £9bn in affordable homes and enabling councils to borrow an extra £1bn to build more social housing."

'Nowhere to live'

Freedom of Information requests showed that since 2015, 372 properties have been sold by Southampton City Council through the Right to Buy scheme, with only about 93 homes built to replace them.

Portsmouth City Council made about £16.2m by selling 271 homes and only built 146 new properties over the same period, compared to Reading where the local authority acquired and built a total of 63 properties after selling off 127 homes.

Meanwhile, Bournemouth Borough Council sold off 85 properties but has built and acquired 132 since 2015.

A former homeless man named Peter told BBC Radio Berkshire he had to wait two years to get a council home in Reading.

He said: "I was living on the streets for a few months. There's some people I know, they have got nowhere.

"They are not building enough council houses."