Andy Burnham urges government to suspend Right to Buy scheme in Manchester

Newly re-elected Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has called for the government to suspend the Right to Buy scheme on new council homes in the region, amid plans to build 10,000 more by 2028.

The mayor’s office claims the Manchester city region has lost almost 24,000 homes to Right to Buy over the past 20 years.

This figure included 571 homes sold in 2022/23 alone.

As a result, Burnham is urging the government to devolve powers to suspend Right to Buy on new council homes and to allow wider suspension at the request of councils in areas where pressure on social housing is greatest.

The mayor pledges to provide 10,000 more council homes in the region by 2028, building at least 1,000 homes in each borough of Greater Manchester, targeting brownfield sites and land owned by public bodies.

“Greater Manchester can’t achieve its full potential as long as it remains in the grip of a housing crisis,” said Burnham. 

“That is why I am setting a new ambition for the city-region to end it within a decade.

"Ten thousand new council homes will help to do that as long as stock can be retained.

“That’s why we’re calling for the suspension of Right to Buy.” 

These new homes will originate from the creation of a new GM Housing First Unit, which will bring forward a plan by the end of 2024.

Burnham also announced a new enforcement capability that will work with councils to make greater use of compulsory purchase order powers over non-decent and empty properties to boost the city-region’s social-rented stock.

The mayor’s office is also opening a new GM Good Landlord Charter designed to set out standards for rental properties, with applications opening in summer.

Burnham cited the average rental price of a two-bed property in Manchester had grown by 12.5% over 2023/24, emphasising the importance of access to affordable social housing.

Commenting on this, Whitehall Lending founder and managing partner Anthony Bodenstein described Burnham’s plans as “commendable”, but pointed out the challenges involved.

“Mayor Burnham's ambitious plan to tackle the housing crisis in Greater Manchester is commendable with its focus on increasing social housing supply, improving rental property standards, and supporting vulnerable residents,” said Anthony.

“However, meeting these goals will require significant funding, close collaboration with local councils, and addressing potential challenges such as land availability and planning constraints.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities confirmed to DFT that the government remained committed to the policy.

In a statement, the spokesperson said: “We remain committed to Right to Buy which has helped over two million social housing tenants to become homeowners.

“Local authorities oversee this process and can use money from sales and preferential borrowing rates to build new homes.

“Through our long-term plan for housing, we are building the homes the country needs, including additional social housing, and we have delivered over 696,100 new affordable homes, of which over 172,600 are for social rent, since 2010.”

Leave a comment