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Warning over housing move
OXFORD City Council could net more than £172 million if it sold off its most expensive housing stock, but opponents have warned against the move.
A report for the Policy Exchange thinktank calls on the government to force councils to sell all housing worth more than the average value for the region they sit in.
However, critics of the report have said Oxford would have to sell at least 10 per cent of its stock because house price averages are much higher in the city than in the general south east region.
If 10 per cent of the council’s 7,822 homes were sold off for the regional average price of £220,126, the council would make £172,182,577.20.
The report has been criticised by many Labour politicians, including Oxford East MP Andrew Smith , who predicted that at least 10 per cent of Oxford’s council housing stock was worth more than the south east average figure.
He said: “If Oxford was forced to sell off higher value council housing, it would threaten council housing in areas like Headington, Cutteslowe, and Jericho. This would be socially unbalanced, denying many parts of the city mixed communities.
“The report is also muddled in assuming this housing could be replaced elsewhere, as Oxford is desperately short of sites for social housing, thanks in large part to the government’s own restrictions on building on the outskirts of the city.”
Although areas including Blackbird Leys, Churchill, Barton, Sandhills, Rose Hill and Iffley carry the majority of the city’s social housing, some more affluent areas also house a surprising number of council tenants.
The council has 271 properties in Osney and Jericho, where house values are higher.
City board member for housing, Scott Seamons, said: “The report assumes that replacement social housing can be built elsewhere in an area, but in a city like ours, with few sites available for development, this is not the case.”
Former Tory adviser Alex Morton, author of the report, said: “Expensive social housing is costly, unpopular and unfair. Social housing tenants deserve a roof over their heads, but not one better than most people can afford, particularly as expensive social housing means less social housing and so longer waiting lists for most people in need.”