COUNCIL homes in Oxford are being sold to tenants under the Right to Buy scheme faster than they are being replaced, latest figures suggest.

Last year, a total of 32 council house tenants in the city bought their homes – nine more than in 2018 – but the city council only acquired or began construction on 16 replacements.

The figures come from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

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During the same 12 months, 350 new homes in the area were started or completed by private housing developers.

Oxford City Council is currently helping to build 354 council homes at the new Barton Park development, but this estate is taking years to build, and meanwhile more long-term tenants may buy their homes.

Oxford Mail:

Oxford City Council handed over keys to some of the first new council homes at Barton Park last year. Picture: Ed Nix

Right to Buy was implemented in 1980 by Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government with the goal of helping longstanding council house tenants buy their rented homes at a discount.

The scheme offers discounts of up to £84,200 outside London, depending on how long a tenant has lived at the property.

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Nationally, 9,986 homes were sold through Right to Buy last year, while 5,811 replacement homes were acquired or started.

The council also warns on its website: "Social housing is scarce in Oxford and only a low number of properties become available to let each year."

Councils are expected to replace Right to Buy homes on a one-for-one basis, but can only use 30 per cent of the receipts from properties sold to cover the cost of replacements.

David Renard, the Local Government Association's housing spokesman, says the Government needs to take action to ensure work on affordable homes can continue as planned after the coronavirus pandemic, with less restriction on how councils can use proceeds from Right to Buy sales.

Oxford Mail:

An old artist's impression of what the new Barton Park estate was supposed to look like.

He added: "We are calling for a temporary extension of the time given to commence planning permissions that would otherwise lapse over the coming weeks.

“This would enable construction activity to deliver new homes to start again quickly, when it is safe to do so, without the need to potentially have to start the planning process again.

“The Government should also urgently extend the time limit for spending Right to Buy receipts from three years to five years, to ensure that many planned council housing projects that are currently on hold can continue to go ahead at the appropriate time."

An MHCLG spokeswoman said Right to Buy helped more than 121,000 people buy their own home nationally since 2010.

She added: "We’re working to get more people on the housing ladder, investing £12.2 billion next year alone to build many more affordable homes across England."