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Letter: Right-to-Buy Enquiry Will Be A Whitewash

Published on: 3 Mar, 2021
Updated on: 3 Mar, 2021

From: Ben Paton

In response to: New GBC Working Group To Identify and Stop RTB Income Loss

The very councillors implicated in the Right-to-Buy payments problem are now installed to investigate themselves.

They are not independent. So the likelihood of a whitewash is high.

The article states that Right-to-Buy receipts may be spent on, “Purchasing market property to be turned into affordable housing”.

There are at least a dozen estate agents in the centre of Guildford that could have helped the council to spend that sum of money in a month or a week.

This is not a new problem. Presumably, the council has been handing Right to Buy receipts back to central government for decades. So the council’s sudden indignation is disingenuous.

Managing Director of Guildford Borough Council, James Whiteman responded: “Our new Right-to-Buy Reporting Review Executive Working Group met this week and have started to identify ways to reduce and eliminate future re-payments to the government.

“They will report their findings to the Executive on 23 March. The group will also develop a system which ensures consistent monitoring to identify repayment risks. Our Corporate Governance and Standards Committee, the lead councillors for Resources and Housing and Development Control and councillors will receive regular reports.

“We have also commissioned KPMG to independently report on our HRA monitoring and the timely use of RTB receipts.”

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Responses to Letter: Right-to-Buy Enquiry Will Be A Whitewash

  1. Paul Spooner Reply

    March 3, 2021 at 2:58 pm

    Mr Paton makes assumptions that are unfortunately not correct. As far as I am aware during the years prior to Q4 2018/2019 no payments were returned to Central Government from RTB. The previous administration was proud of our efforts to invest in social housing once government restrictions were relaxed to enable that to happen.

    The investigation must be independent, comprehensive and looking back over the past years, and I find myself in agreement with Mr Paton in that whilst I welcome the announcement of an independent review, I do question the scope: will it look backwards and not just forward? KPMG have to repair the damage to their reputation over their recent very poor, and far from independent, investigation into Burchatts Barn.

    Paul Spooner is a former leader of Guildford Borough Council and a Conservative borough councillor for Ash South & Tongham.

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