NHF demands temporary ban to prevent 'unsustainable' erosion of England's affordable housing stock

Housing associations are calling for a provisional ban to be placed on tenants buying social housing, to counter the slump in England's stock of affordable homes.

Twice as many affordable homes were sold than built between 1999 and 2007, according to the National Housing Federation (NHF), which called the resulting 300,000 drop in affordable housing stock “unsustainable”.

England's affordable housing stock has fallen by 300,000 in eight years

While 205,123 new homes were built between 1999 and 2007, some 440,000 were sold off at discounted prices under the government-led right-to-buy scheme. The NHF, which represents 1,300 independent not-for-profit housing associations, has called for a temporary ban on further sales.

The government is against the proposed ban, however, because it says that the right-to-buy scheme has helped thousands of families own their homes.

NHF figures show that the overall number of social homes fell from 4.3 million in 1999 to 3.9 million last year. During the same period, the number of households on waiting lists rose from 1.03 million to 1.67 million - an increase of 61%.

David Orr, chief of the NHF, told the BBC: “One in 13 of every household in the country is on a waiting list for affordable rented housing - now that's likely to increase to maybe one in 10. So if you walk down the street, every 10th person you meet is on a waiting list for an affordable rented home.”

He added: “We have not got enough homes in the economy to be able to meet our housing needs.”

The number of people on waiting lists is predicted to hit 5 million within two years, the NHF said.