Westminster City Council is spending over £20 million buying up and refurbishing 45 former Council flats that it sold for a fraction of that amount under the Right to Buy. The average cost of the 45 former Council flats bought back by the Council is £419,000 with a further average cost of £36,000 in refurbishing the flats, giving a total cost of £20,445,000 – an average of £454,000 per flat.
Labour Councillors say that many of the 45 flats sold by the Council would have been originally sold to their former Council tenant owners for less than £100,000 when taking in to account the discounts available under the Right to Buy.
In the report authorising the flat purchases, Council offices say:
“The properties being purchased by City West Homes are located across the City but in all cases these are ex-RTB properties, primarily located on the City Council’s Estates”
This latest news comes days after Westminster City Council revealed that it had bought 25 properties in Gray’s, Essex for over £3.6 million as temporary accommodation for homeless families. This follows last month’s news that Westminster Council had spent over £6.22 million purchasing 34 properties in Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge, Enfield and Newham for homeless families.
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Leader of the Labour Group, said;
“This is the ultimate proof that Conservative Housing policies have failed and are financial madness. Spending over £20 million of public money buying back properties that were sold for a fraction of that amount demonstrates the scale of the housing crisis in Westminster and the folly of selling off so many Council properties without building any replacement Council flats.”
“Spending the £20 million on buying back former Council flats does not increase the housing stock in Westminster. Instead, the £20 million should be spent on building new Council flats on Council-owned land so that we can both increase the number of homes and build new homes for those in housing need.”