Expensive social housing should be sold to fund new house building across the UK, the Policy Exchange think tank has said.
In its report Ending Expensive Social Tenancies it said that putting the highest-value properties on the market when they become vacant would generate £4.5bn to build up to 170,000 social homes a year.
The think tank claims the move could reduce the housing waiting list by up to 600,000 in five years. The Policy Exchange report found that almost 4m houses and flats are let out to social tenants in England. However, 22%, or 818,000 social housing properties throughout the counrtry are worth more than comparable houses in the same area.
The report found that almost a third of all social housing in London is worth more than surrounding private properties, while in the North West and Yorkshire the figure was around a fifth.
The report suggested that up to £159bn could be raised in total if all social and council housing worth more than similar-sized properties nearby were sold across the country.
The think tank said properties should be sold off gradually, as they became vacant. At average vacancy rates that would enable the government to sell 28,500 homes a year to private buyers, raising £4.5bn a year, when debts have been paid down. It said that this could then pay for between 80,000 and 170,000 new social houses to be built a year.
Alex Morton, author of the report said: "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."