HALF a million pounds of taxpayer money is going into the pockets of landlords who are renting properties out to Harrow Council that the authority used to own.
Under the Right to Buy scheme, introduced by Margaret Thatcher in 1980, council tenants are allowed to purchase their council-owned homes, but now it has emerged many of those properties are being rented right back to the council at typically £350 a week, totalling £500,000 each year.
Councillor Glen Hearnden, Labour’s cabinet member for housing, said: “It is an expensive irony that the much-lauded Right to Buy has ended up as a financial straight jacket for Harrow residents.
“It really does not make sense to pay huge amounts of money to private landlords for houses we used to own.
“We haven’t built a council house for the past 23 years, which has further intensified pressure on our housing stock with the London rental market going through the roof.
“But we are putting right a quarter of a century of stagnation with our proposals to build new homes and regenerate our estates.”
In January the Labour London Assembly Member Tom Copley published a report which showed that 36 per cent of homes sold by councils across the capital since the policy came into force were being rented back to them, and on average at higher market rates.
Mr Hernden added: ”We lose twice with the government scheme: we lose the property from our stock and then we pay to rent it back.
“It all adds up to our residents suffering. It feels like we are fighting the fires caused by an overheating housing market whilst the government is stood on our hose pipe.” Harrow Council does run a Grants to Move scheme which works to aid tenants to move from the rental sector to home ownership, and the authority has also announced its intention to begin expanding its housing stock.
Last month councillors commissioned a redevelopment of the Grange Farm estate in Harrow on the Hill which will see the replacement of 240 ageing homes with around 430 new properties alongside a rebuilt community centre.
In addition to building homes, the Labour administration announced last week that it will begin housing people on waiting lists out of London .