The York Council’s much hyped “shared ownership” programme has provided homes for only 10 families during the last 3 years.
The figures are revealed in a response to a Freedom of Information request.
All the 10 homes were purchased on the open market. The scheme encourages residents to identify a property for sale before asking the Council to purchase it for them. The family then buys part of the property on a mortgage while renting the rest.
The Council has decided to set the rent well below commercial levels, effectively providing the occupier with a taxpayer subsidy.
The only recorded discussion of the strategy, which will see a large proportion of the 600 new homes being built by the Council over the next few years allocated to shared ownership, came at a private meeting. click for details
The York Council admits that priority for shared ownership homes cannot be given to those on the housing waiting list. Nor can it restrict availability to existing York residents. It blames “Homes England” for these restrictions. These seem perverse restrictions given that the housing list is, and has been for many years, the accepted way of determining housing need and priority in the City.
The Council said that, “A key ambition (of shared ownership) is to support key workers by marketing housing for them. Key workers include teachers, health and social care workers, the police, the fire service and others working in the public sector”. It can only do so through a direct marketing campaign. It is unclear how many of the homes have gone to “key workers”
Other social landlords have provided 30 shared ownership properties over the last 3 years. Of these, 29 have been “new build”.
By contrast, only 45 additional homes have been added to the Council housing stock since 2016.
Only 4 of these were purchased on the open market.
The open market purchase of homes, to supplement the rental stock, has been the flagship policy of the Liberal Democrats for over a decade. It only became a practical option 4 years ago when restrictions on the use of income from Council house sales were relaxed.
There are over 1700 applicants on the housing waiting list in York
Meanwhile the Council has taken on extra staff to manage its new build housing programme. They have so far failed to report how many shared ownership deals have been completed by the new team during the current financial year.
We think it is time for the Council to have a candid public debate about the demand for shared ownership and other forms of housing tenure in the City.