How Eltham and Chislehurst’s MP could make it easier to buy a home in South East London

By | August 3, 2023

As a Londoner under 30, I know how tough it is for young people to get on the housing ladder.  Although we saved hard, my partner and I were lucky to have help from our families so that we could afford our home in Eltham this year.

Equally, I know that many  are not so lucky and simply cannot afford to buy their own home, which is why I want to focus on how the MP for Eltham and Chislehurst could work to make getting on the housing ladder easier for first time buyers in South East London.

One of the key themes of my campaign is how national policies have a real impact on the lives of South East Londoners. For many young people it simply isn’t affordable to rent or buy a home locally and as our MP I will work hard to address this. Nationally, we need to focus on ensuring new housing is both affordable and appropriate, but I want to look at a specific policy being used by Greenwich Council which makes existing housing even more unaffordable for local residents which needs to be banned by the Westminster Government.

The policy I refer to is the use of Right to Buy money (money received from Council tenants who buy their own home)to purchase homes on the open market. The Government intended for this money to be used to build new housing, but Royal Borough of Greenwich Council interpreted this as buying existing homes when they come onto the market. Outbidding local residents and pushing pricesup in South East London in the process. 

This policy was extended last summer when Greenwich Council  additional properties under the  scheme. Despite its name these funds can be spent to buy any property for sale in South East London.

What is happening in Greenwich?

According to Greenwich Council the current policy of buying homes on the open market is a success, with a report stating:

“By the end of February 2022 officers had purchased 505 existing properties which ranged in unit type from one bed flats to six bed houses.”

As far as I can see, the last report to Greenwich Council’s Cabinet on the use of Right to Buy receipts (October 2020) to purchase existing private properties across South East London allocates £84m to this policy. The Right to Buy Back budget is additional to this and I know Greenwich Council is looking to purchase around 25 to 30 properties on the open market each year. 

In all these cases, the Government’s clear aim is to encourage the increased provision of social housing and to help “councils play their part in building the social and affordable homes that England needs”.  However, the Government’s policy seems to have left open the possibility of council’s using Right to Buy receipts to buy homes on the open market rather than building more affordable homes as intended. Greenwich Council has the largest amount spent on buying rather than building homes that I can find nationally and this makes it more expensive and difficult for ordinary people to buy homes in South East London. 

A friend of mine tells me that an A level Economist would show the effect of what Greenwich Council is doing using this graph.

Greenwich Council is effectively increasing the demand for housing across South East London (D1 to D2) which means prices rise for everyone attempting to buy a home (P1 to P2). Given that Greenwich Council’s own estimate is that the average property price locally is thirteen times the average wage, this increase in the cost of buying your own home is having a serious impact on anyone trying to buy a new home having to compete with the Council.  With rising interest rates, Greenwich Council is effectively making buying a home more unaffordable when it is already extremely expensive.

What would I do as your MP?

The problems in the housing market are extremely complex and all parties have plans to increase the supply of housing in one way or another. I will obviously support the Conservative Government’s attempts to increase the supply of housing to make it easier for people to buy or rent their own home. 

However, as your local MP I will also campaign hard to stop the Royal Borough of Greenwich Council and the Mayor of London spending money intended for the building of new homes on buying them instead. It simply cannot be right for Labour politicians to intervene in the housing market to make it harder for local residents (especially first-time buyers) to buy their own homes – they are pushing prices up and as your local MP I will stand up for residents by opposing this policy.

Please note that this blog is on the Eltham Matters site temporarily while the formal Charlie Davis for Eltham and Chislehurst MP site is set up. It will be transferred over as soon as the other site is ready.

One thought on “How Eltham and Chislehurst’s MP could make it easier to buy a home in South East London

  1. Fergal Favier

    Very interesting article. Didn’t know this money was being used so extensively towards buying houses rather than building them. Great info, thanks.


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