Labour Councillor David Boothroyd has said figures revealing more than half of all recent right-to-buy applications made in Westminster are fraudulent, show it’s time for the controversial scheme to go.

Right-to-buy established the opportunity for longstanding council tenants to buy their flats at a discounted price. However, the scheme has attracted widespread criticism as many properties were later sold in the private market, with much of the council stock housing sold around the UK never replaced.

A report to Westminster Council’s Audit and Performance committee on November 14 said there had been 21 proven cases of right-to-buy fraud in the first half of 2018/19 alone.

The Council’s counter-fraud team said suspicion was usually raised by a tenant’s eligibility or financial status. In many cases it was uncovered when the tenant voluntarily withdrew their application once checks started.

In his speech to the Council on 7th November, Councillor Boothroyd highlighted government figures for 2017-18 showing there were 20 completed right to buy sales in Westminster, while the Council’s own figures showed its counter-fraud team had stopped 57 applications in the same period.

Councillor Boothroyd said “affordable” housing was out of reach of people even on average London salaries, and that right to buy had contributed to the gap in truly affordable council housing. He said:

“It wasn’t an accident that almost no council homes have been built since the 1980s; it was an explicit government policy in the 1987 Housing White Paper, largely unreformed since then.”

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