The impact of the Right to Buy on the Millbank Estate is highlighted in the ‘Observer’;
“Just a few minutes’ walk from parliament, and a stone’s throw from the Thames, is Westminster’s imposing Millbank estate, erected at the start of the 20th century on the site of a prison.
A series of redbrick blocks on wide tree-lined streets, built in response to an outcry over the state of London’s slums, Millbank was one of the earliest council estates, providing good, affordable dwellings for those seeking to escaping exploitation and profiteering by private landlords.
The handsome estate largely survived the Nazi bombs, although 25 people were killed. But it is arguable today whether the spirit in which these buildings were built lives on.
The estate comprises 561 flats, of which over half are privately owned. Estate agents market one-bedroom properties for £450,000. A three-bedroom flat is for rent at £600 a week.
Westminster council has, since 1980, been one of the keenest advocates of Margaret Thatcher’s right-to-buy policy which was due, through discounts, to transfer swaths of council homes into the hands of their tenants, creating what was billed as a “property-owning democracy”. The current government has sought to seize the Thatcher mantle and is offering even larger discounts to tenants and help people “achieve the dream of home ownership”.
The reality, as a new report, From Right to Buy to Buy to Let, shows, is that at least 31% of Westminster’s council homes sold under right-to-buy are now in the hands of landlords.http://tomcopley.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/From-Right-to-Buy-to-Buy-to-Let-Jan-2014.pdf
Those very same landlords, the report discloses, are raising their rents as never before. Median rents in the private sector in London increased by 12% in 2011 and 9% in 2012.
In Westminster, the average weekly rent in the private sector is £573.92 – compared to £106.03 a week if you are in one of the local authority’s homes. For those on benefits, the impact of the new £500-a-week cap on their claims is obvious. Westminster isn’t for them.
Today’s report shows that even the poorest boroughs are often monopolised by private landlords, and often quite ruthless ones. “