RIGHT to buy house sales profits averaged £62,000 in Essex, a BBC investigation has revealed, leading to calls for the scheme to be scrapped to rescue social housing.

Homeowners in Essex made £816,620 in total average real terms profits since 2000.

The BBC's study shows homes resold under the scheme in England and Wales made a combined profit of £4.3 billion in real terms.

Some homes were sold on almost immediately after purchase, including in Rochford, where a £21,000 ex-council house was bought and resold in just five days.

Terry Cutmore, head of Rochford District Council, was unable to comment on the fact.

He explained the council had transferred its housing stock to what is now known as Sanctuary Housing Association, 11 years ago.


The Ministry of Housing stated tenants who have bought their council home should have the same rights as other homeowners.

Housing minister, MP Kit Malthouse, said: “Under Right to Buy, the Government has helped nearly two million people achieve their dream of home ownership and we are working hard to make sure everyone in the country who wants it, has a shot at getting on the housing ladder.

“Tenants who use Right to Buy must repay some of their discount back to their council if they sell the property within the first five years, and must offer their local authority the opportunity to buy it back.”

Newsquest was unable to obtain for how many homes Essex local authorities had been given this opportunity.

But analysis of the BBC's data put Epping Forest, Brentwood and Chelmsford as the areas with the highest resale profits, ranging between £71,000 and £75,000.

Sellers in Castle Point, Maldon and Rochford made the least.

In Tendring people made the lowest daily profits between the time they bought their council home to the time they sold it at £27, which was just £5 higher in Southend.

Jackie Bliss, chief executive of Southend’s homelessness charity HARP, said: “One of the contributing factors to rising homelessness in Southend is the acute and chronic lack of affordable housing.

“There is no doubt the Right to Buy scheme, although introduced with good intentions, has exacerbated this situation by depleting council house stock and putting pressure on the rest of the housing market.

“Sadly, when combined with other factors like poor mental health, changes to the benefits system and relatively low pay for jobs based in Southend, this can lead to people having to resort to sleeping rough on our streets, risking their lives in doing so.”


A homeless man sat on the floor in Colchester

Experts claim the research is proof Right to Buy should be either reformed or abandoned at a time of increased housing need.

A spokesman for the Chartered Institute of Housing claimed more than 165,000 homes for social rent has been lost in just six years, and predicts this net loss could reach 200,000.

“Right to buy is the biggest factor in the continued fall in homes for social rent,” the spokesman added.

But in Colchester, where there has been an upwards trend of Right to Buy sales, the town’s housing boss said a "perfect storm" of Government policies had also contributed to the decrease.

Tina Bourne said: “For a long time councils were prevented from building replacement homes because of funding. If you sell a house at a discount of 40 per cent, you can't replace it one-for-one.


St Runwald Street car park is one of the Colchester sites earmarked for new homes

"Our borrowing has been curtailed since 2015.

"It's only since November of last year the Government removed the housing revenue account borrowing cap so stock-holding councils can borrow money to build houses, which Colchester are doing.

"The fact our social rents were reduced by one per cent over four years - it reduced our business plan amount of funds to use building council homes.

"Government policies allowed tenants to own their homes but gave us nothing in return.

"That's a perfect storm of poor housing management by Government, or different departments which don't understand how housing works."

One of the key focuses for Southend Council is investing in affordable homes, its housing chief commented.

“The rise in population, the right to buy, an absence of space to build and the demand for more affordable housing has left most local authorities, including Southend, with a highly challenging situation,” councillor Tony Cox said.

“We’re constantly looking at solutions to these problems and is why we have been investing in the building of affordable homes across the borough in recent years.

“It’s also a key focus of our new housing strategy, and is key topic of debate for our ongoing local plan discussions with the community as we plan for the future.”


Tony Cox of Southend Council is focused on affordable homes

Since its inception, more than 1.9 million homes have been sold under Right to Buy in England, more than half a million in Scotland, 140,000 in Wales, and 122,000 in Northern Ireland, according to industry research.

Nationally, just over 78,000 council homes have been sold since 2010, whereas nearly 135,000 social rent homes have been delivered in the same period, according to the Government's numbers.

A spokesman added that since 2010, the Government has delivered more than 407,000 new affordable homes, including more than 293,000 affordable homes for rent. 

Property expert Henry Pryor said it is time for Right to Buy and Right to Acquire to be "consigned to the rubbish bin," following in the footsteps of Scotland and Wales, which called time on the scheme this year.

Speaking on the national figures, he said: "I expect people will be surprised and angry.

"A lot will miss the few benefits of Right to Buy, many will dismiss them, but the majority will, I’m sure, feel that what this tells us is what we suspected all along - that some people have got ahead with direct government subsidy and far too many of them have simply profited from a scheme that had much bigger social ambitions when it was reinvigorated first by Margaret Thatcher, and subsequently by the coalition Government under David Cameron.

“There is no compelling argument for these policies to continue and I would like to see them consigned to the rubbish bin as soon as possible, unless significant changes can be made to allow local authorities to retain the vast bulk of the receipts from these sales and to be able to borrow to build replacements in far greater numbers.”